I knew this would happen before long. The Gospel in it's true radical form begins to affect and radiate throughout human life, and although the evangelical church has done an incredible job of confining the Gospel to Sunday mornings - it is like a roaring lion that must be set free! When Paul proclaimed in Romans 1:16 that he is; "Not ASHAMED of the Gospel for it is the POWER of God unto salvation ..." - did he mean that he was not ashamed to stand in the open air and warble out songs (nothing wrong with that) or wash people's cars (nothing wrong with that!). No - I suspect that what he wasn't ashamed of was the radical call of the grace message. That salvation isn't just the "Wicket Gate" but affects the WHOLE of our lives!!
I had a very hard and tearful day at the hospice yesterday. I've spent the weekend looking after some lovely teenage lads who have the condition; "Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy" - which in brief is a muscle wasting condition that leaves them wheelchair bound by their early teens. In short I HATE this condition with as much passion as I hate the cancer that stole my beloved grandpa, my second mother and others from me. There is something VEHEMENTLY wrong with a condition that robs the individual of any movement but leaves their brain functioning well and locked into a place where they depend on others for total care. What is worse/better depending on your outlook is that these lads are living longer with the invention of ventilatory support.
Here is a video clip of a lad with this speaking about what he goes through. Can I just say I don't know this lad - I found the clip on You-Tube and found it very moving. What he says and what he looks like is very similar to the lads I work with. For those who are wondering - the plastic tube in his neck is called a tracheostomy and it helps him breathe;
During my time at work, I sat and listened to this lad ask why girls would never find him attractive. And I wept. I heard another guy with Muscular Dystrophy explain how he went to university and hoped he would find a good group of friends but was disappointed and largely left to spend three years in his room dealing with his electric wheelchair alone. And I wept. And today I have spent a lot of time weeping and I couldn't really understand why. Don Baker gave me some incredibly helpful insights into what is going on. He said in our discussion;
"You're being allowed to share in the sufferings of Jesus ... this is a great privilege ... your intercession for this boy and others are precious jewels to the Father ... the compassion and broken heart you're experiencing is vital to someone with a healing and/or prophetic gift ... and your simply showing compassion and love for these kids is sharing God's own heart for them ... i believe you can ask God to reveal his heart to you - his love for broken humanity ... over time, He will tenderize you so, that you will share his heart for the broken and the lost ... and the power of his love will begin to flow through you into these people".
So I guess when we are faced with impossible situations like these dear lads that I work with - and am extremely privilidged to work with by the way - or with our friend who has contracted HIV, what do you do with that? I guess one option is to distinguish between suffering and decide that one group such as the lads at my work didn't deserve it and my friend did. But who are we to deal out judgement? The evangelical church may feel free - but I certainly don't. Another option is to secularise our view and put our trust in medical science and hope that something crops up in the future.
The other option is one that is driving me at the moment and that is the question; "What would Jesus Do?!?!". And I am well aware of how some evangelical leaders despise that question and argue it's about "What Jesus has done" ... not what He would do. I don't care. What WOULD Jesus do if He walked into my hospice and met the lads who are in the wheelchairs and suffering as they are? What WOULD Jesus do if He met my friend who has contracted HIV? What WOULD Jesus do if He met some of the women I have encountered recently who have been diagnosed with Huntingdon's Disease - a fatal brain disorder that will incapacitate them before death claims them?
I've got no doubt what He would do;
"Many followed Him, and He healed them ALL".
Well that is Him - but what about us?
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father".
I realise that there are varieties of opinions about whether "greater works" refers to qualitative or quantitative "greater" (I used to adhere to the quantitative school of thought but am vascillating now being very persuaded by Rob Rufus) - but the essential point is that we are simply not ... yet ... doing the works of Jesus. When was the last time you drove out a demon? When was the last time I laid hands on someone and saw them stand up and walk? It is happening in the earth today - but we want ... MORE!