I was in Newark this week and saw a newspaper article about Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey. He had surgery to limit the amount of food he can get into his stomach. It’s called Lap Band Surgery: Quite a procedure, where an inflatable silicone device is placed around the top portion of the stomach to treat obesity. The 40-minute surgery is intended to slow consumption of food and thus the amount of food consumed.
Christie says his decision to have weight loss surgery was a personal one made for his wife and children.
I applaud the governor for his choice and for his reason behind it—To be alive for their young children and to enjoy the years after turning 50.
It’s always tough to admit we have problems whether it’s physical, moral, emotional, relational or spiritual. In addition to that, it’s really tough to say our problem is because of sin in our lives.
I’m not saying Governor Christie is admitting he has an issue of sin. Rather, he is courageous to face his obesity and say “I’m obeast. I could die from this and that would be wrong for me to do because I love my wife and kids.”
As we close out this series of Mind The Gap on Modus Operandi, James talks about sick people in the Christian Culture of his day; people who claimed to be Christ followers. What’s interesting about their sicknesses was why they were sick.
Chris Christie has a physical condition and saw a cure in the surgery but some Christians in James’ day had sicknesses which came from deliberate choices to sin. Quite a bit of a difference in the circumstance. But what about being sick because of sin and what’s the procedure James offers to promote healing?
James wrote: Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. James 5:14
Cutting to the chase, my understanding of the anointing of oil is that this oil was to be medicinal and not a religious rite. That would seem to mean James was saying—take what is behind the sickness; a spiritual condition of failure and sin and have elders pray over you. Then do what’s necessary medically to deal with the sickness.
Then, in verses 15-16, James said, something about a prayer of faith that gives us a clue as to why this person was sick.
15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Instead of offering a procedure like Lap Band Surgery, James’ talks about a procedure that extends to the soul of man and his relationship with God and others. So then, healing is different from a cure in this case.
Tony Compolo tells a story about being in a church in Oregon where he was asked to pray for a man who had cancer. Compolo prayed boldly for the man’s healing. That next week he got a telephone call from the man’s wife. She said, “You prayed for my husband. He had cancer.” Compolo thought when he heard her use the past tense verb that his cancer had been eradicated! But before he could think much about it she said, “He died.” Compolo felt terrible.
But she continued, “Don’t feel bad. When he came into that church that Sunday he was filled with anger. He knew he was going to be dead in a short period of time, and he hated God. He was 58 years old, and he wanted to see his children and grandchildren grow up. He was angry that this all-powerful God didn’t take away his sickness and heal him. He would lie in bed and curse God.
The more his anger grew towards God, the more miserable he was to everybody around him. It was an awful thing to be in his presence.
But the lady told Compolo, “After you prayed for him, a peace had come over him and a joy had come into him. Tony, the last three days have been the best days of our lives. We’ve sung. We’ve laughed. We’ve read Scripture. We prayed. Oh, they’ve been wonderful days. And I called to thank you for laying your hands on him and praying for healing.”
And then she said something incredibly profound. She said, “He wasn’t cured, but he was healed.” (Tony Campolo, “Year of Jubilee,” Preaching Today Tape #212)
No wonder James ends his writing with the following words!
19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
That is THE Modus Operandi of what James has been teaching us. What a wonderful way to end this series.
Honesty – Healing – Hope in Jesus. Thank you James.