Part VI of our series on Healing and Comforting
Healing is unique among all the Works of Mercy in that it is the only one that shows up in Paul’s list of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11:
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
So is healing a spiritual gift given just to some Christians but not to others? Or is it a Work of Mercy commended for all Christians?
Jesus seems to point to the latter understanding in Matthew 10:8, where he says to all of his assembled disciples:
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
Trying to find the answer to this question has been going on throughout church history. Some Christians have said that healing gifts were given only to the apostles or the early church. Others have said that such gifts remain operative today in the specialized ministry of a few select healers (it seems they all go on to become famous TV evangelists!). Still others say that all Christians should be able to heal but can’t because they lack faith.
But a review of the breadth of Scripture and the witness of church history indicates that Christianity has never understood healing to be restricted to miraculous moments or manifestations. Sometimes God casts out illness through healing gifts, as Paul makes clear in 1 Corinthians 12. But sometimes God blesses some of the most mundane means.
Even washing soiled bedsheets qualifies.
Bottom line: healing is something all Christians do as a way of mirroring into the world the healing love we personally received from God. The method or means may vary (sometimes miraculous, sometimes mundane), but the call is consistent: All Christians heal because God heals all Christians.
If that phrase surprises you, remember this: salvation is the fundamental healing we experience, and it is common to all Christians. As we discovered last week, to the Lord, sin, death, and illness are all connected at the root. We’ll talk more about that next week, but for now share your thoughts:
Is healing a specific gift given only to a few Christians or a Work of Mercy and, therefore, something all Christians should be engaged in?
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