The church has hurt a lot of people. Historically, the church’s resume has hit highs so high as to touch the face of God and lows so low as to smell like evil itself. The Church has lifted up and it has pushed down. Is the church called to hurt or heal? What would Jesus say?
Jesus and Healing
Jesus was focused on healing instead of hurting.
One day Jesus was walking through a village when the village synagogue ruler named Jairus begged Jesus to heal his daughter who was deathly ill (Mark 5:21-34; Luke 8:40-48).
Jesus was on his way to do that very important and urgent work when a woman who had been sick for many years touched the edge of his cloak and was healed. Jesus stopped and asked who had touched him. He felt the healing power leave his body.
The woman was afraid, but seeing that she couldn’t remain anonymous finally confessed that she was the one who had touched him. Jesus told her that her faith had healed her.
On the face of it, this is a story about healing. But at a deeper level, it is a story about pain and isolation.
So, let’s review this woman’s situation.
She is a woman which already marks her as one of relatively low status in Palestinian society. She is hemorrhaging which makes her perpetually unclean. This means that she cannot touch anyone, nor can anyone touch her. It means total physical and emotional isolation.
She has spent all her money on doctors. Her condition has impoverished her.
She has been suffering in this condition for twelve years. This is her new normal. She’s lost all hope.
Then she hears that Jesus is coming to town. His reputation as a powerful healer has preceded him. Suddenly, there is a tiny spark of hope. She formulates a plan. She has to reach out and touch Jesus.
This in itself is a major act of faith and courage. She must break the law. She must do what is taboo in her culture. And she must do it in front of the Synagogue Ruler, the crowd (made up of religious people), and the most famous Rabbi of her day – Jesus.
She touches the tassels on Jesus’ rabbinical shawl and the effect is immediate. She and Jesus both feel it. Jesus calls for her to reveal herself. This is the climactic moment in her story.
The Role of Vulnerability
Touching Jesus was the easy part. Now she must make herself vulnerable. She must tell her story. She comes before him trembling. I like the way Mark describes the scene:
“Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth” (Mark 5:33).
What was she so afraid of? She was afraid that she was in trouble for touching Jesus. She was forbidden by the Mosaic Law to touch anyone lest she renders them unclean. Now, she has to confess her sin. She has broken the Mosaic Law.
Mark says, “She told him the whole truth” (Mark 5:33).
In the face of her fear, she makes herself completely vulnerable. It was in that moment Jesus told her – “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace” (Mark 5:34).
The Fruit of Healing
Jesus gave her the three things she needed most for her healing.
- He called her “Daughter” – she was once again a part of a family, a community.
- He told her that her faith healed her – she no longer had to suffer.
- He told her to go in peace – her pain had been lifted and she could experience rest.
The Healing Church
Following Jesus’ lead, there are three things the Church should do to focus on healing instead of hurting people.
We have to create a space where:
1. People care enough to stop their busy lives and offer help.
Life is busy. Jesus was pressed by the crowd. He was on the way to deal with a life and death situation. Even so – he stopped to heal the woman. He took time for her.
2. People can get away from shame.
Shame and guilt are different – guilt is from God; shame is from the community. Guilt says you did something bad, shame says you are bad. Guilt is from God, shame is what happens when you make the community your god.
3. People can feel safe enough to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability is one key to emotional healing.
Four Myths About Vulnerability
(from Brene Brown’s NETFLIX special, “The Call to Courage”):
1. Vulnerability is weakness.
Vulnerability is the feeling we get when we feel uncertain, at risk, or emotionally exposed.
It takes great courage to make yourself vulnerable.
2. I don’t do vulnerability.
Has anyone ever manage to live life without uncertainty, risk, or emotional exposure? No. We either do it well or we do it poorly, but we all do vulnerability.
3. Vulnerability is disclosure.
You don’t measure vulnerability by the amount of disclosure. Sometimes it’s about the courage to set boundaries. You measure vulnerability by the amount of courage it takes to show up and be seen when you can’t control the outcome.
4. Trust comes before vulnerability.
Do I trust you and then I’m vulnerable with you? OR, am I vulnerable with you and then learn to trust you? The answer is both. Start with little things and build over time.