Meeting Together for Healing

Flee from the Wrath to Come

Do you desire to flee from the wrath to come and be saved from your sins?

Answering yes to that question was the only condition required for those who wanted to be admitted into the societies of a new movement of God in the 18th century, called, “Methodism.”

Romans 8:1 reminds us of this good news,

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Wrath. Condemnation. That’s some pretty serious stuff.

How to Flee

So, how can we flee from the wrath to come and be saved from our sins? And how can we make Paul’s declaration our own and say, “There is now no condemnation for us for we are in Christ Jesus”?

James helps us here. Listen to this paraphrase of James 5:13-16a from Eugene Peterson’s, The Message,

Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven–healed inside and out. Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.

It was James 5:16a, that was the governing verse and slogan for those early Methodist societies. Again, James wrote,

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

There was a direct connection for Wesley between spiritual healing and physical healing – or any other kind of healing.

Meeting Together

We can flee from the wrath of God, be saved from our sins, and be delivered from condemnation because our Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins on the cross. That’s what we remember and experience when we celebrate Holy Communion. That’s what we remind one another of when we meet together to build one another up in our faith.

John Wesley wanted Methodist Christians to live whole and holy lives in response to the grace of God,  by the grace of God – out of thanksgiving and obedience to God. And part of doing that was by meeting together regularly to confess sins, share temptations and other struggles with one another.

Then they would encourage one another, pray for one another, and remind one another of God’s healing power, grace, and the truth of 1 John 1:9, which says,

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

This is similar to what United Methodists do when we confess our sins together in our Holy Communion liturgy. Once we confess our sins, the pastor then reads these words,

“Hear the good news:
     Christ died for us while we were yet sinners;
     that proves God’s love toward us.
In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.”

Then the congregation responds,

“In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.”

Here’s the key: We’re not forgiving one another. Instead, we’re affirming and declaring the truth of the Gospel of 1 John 1:9 – that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Forgiven and Forgiving

Now, of course, if we sin against another person, we do need to go to that person and seek their forgiveness. That’s why Jesus, in Matthew 5, tells us if we’re going to the altar to give an offering and remember someone who has something against us, we should first go to them and be reconciled.

We should be people whose lives are marked by being forgiven and forgiving.

Think of the words we say when we pray the Lord’s Prayer: “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Jesus expects his followers to be people who forgive much because they have been forgiven much. 

I encourage you to take a close and hard look at your life. If you have any areas of your life that need that sort of reconciliation, then this very day, go to that person and either ask for forgiveness or offer it. That’s a healing act. That can bring about wonderful healing and wholeness in your life and in the lives of others.

Wholistic Healing

You see, Christianity is a wholistic faith. To be whole and holy means we seek to live wholistic lives under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our spiritual lives, physical lives, relationships, mental lives, emotional lives and more are all interconnected. And therefore, we need healing, which of course includes spiritual healing. You see, sin is a sickness of the soul. It has devastating power in our lives.

It can have an incredibly alienating impact in our lives. It can…

·         Alienate us from God
·         Alienate us from Others, and
·         Alienate us even from Ourselves.

James recognized that in our text by connecting our spiritual needfor forgiveness with our physical needs for healing and the many other ways we experience troubles in this world.

Meeting together with other brothers in Christ is a way to watch over one another in love, to confess our sins and struggles to one another, to be reminded that when we confess our sins God will forgive us, and to receive help and reconciliation when needed. In a word, we experience God’s grace in these times of deep, biblical fellowship.

Brothers, isn’t that good news? And because of it we can declare with the Apostle Paul,

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Thanks be to God.

Walking Points

·         Reread Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of James 5:13-16, mentioned in this devotional. Meditate upon it and write down key ideas you gain from it.
·         In what ways does your small group help bring healing to the men in your group?
·         What are some ways your group could improve at reminding one another of the wholistic healing offered in and through Christ Jesus, our Lord?
·         At its best and most biblical, what do you think should take place when men meet together in a small group setting?
·         How can you help and encourage your group to start moving in that direction? Start praying for that today. God will move mountains when men pray.

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