One of the least emphasized elements in modern writings on healing is the degree to which, with a few notable exceptions, healing is almost always portrayed in the Scriptures as a community event.
Note the community orientation of the admonition to pray for healing in James 5:13-15:
13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.
If you’re in trouble, you appear to be on good grounds to pray solo. And if you’re happy, go ahead and sing in the shower. But if you’re sick, it’s time to call in reinforcements.
And note that though much is made in some circles (and yes, even some Scriptures) of the importance of the faith of the individual who is sick, note that in James it is the faith of the group as a whole that receives mention.
This flies in the face of our modern tendency to think of healing as a drama with three parts:
- Sick person
Paul Tautges reminds us that Scripture
stresses the need for believers to live together spiritually, united by truth, and in a close association of mutual care, rather than independently, as “spiritual Lone Rangers” (coined by Kent Hughes). These spiritual communities are God’s ordained instruments for carrying out the Great Command, and will continue to be so until Jesus returns. Therefore, we must lead followers of Christ toward a stronger commitment to their local assemblies where they can grow in the grace and knowledge of their Savior Jesus Christ and practice biblical love by learning to serve others.
As I write this, I am in the midst of receiving daily updates from one of our Seoul USA/.W friends whose son is in the hospital suffering from a serious intestinal problem. Question: How do I regard these email updates? Am I a spectator?
No. James reminds me that the prayers of faith of those who receive this mother’s email are as important as the prayers of the mother and of the suffering son himself.