My working definition of an “Elephant” is an issue that we’re in denial about; defeated by; or - afraid to ask about – and need to submit to Jesus (to effectively address). Jesus called people to face elephants throughout his ministry, often by asking provocative questions: “Who do people say that I am?” then “Who do YOU say that I am?” (Mark 8) To the woman being condemned by self-righteous religious leaders (who get humbled by Jesus questioning their integrity) he says, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” Neither do I – from now on, sin no more.” ( John 8 )
John 5 is the story of the disabled man who has waited 38 years beside a pool known as a healing place. Jesus asks a question that at first seems ridiculously obvious, “Do you want to be healed?” (or, “Do you want to be made whole?”) Undoubtedly it was the helplessess of this man that drew Jesus to him. We all find ourselves paralyzed at times, unable to do the thing we want or ought to do. Sometimes our answer to the question of Jesus is …”No! “– or “I don’t know?” …….why wouldn’t we – why don’t we?? I’ve become very accustomed to my problem; It would take risk to step out of what has become my identity; It may mean addressing the whole family system or social structure; “sometimes the broken relationships in our lives are what’s healed or restored to wholeness (with family members, friends, colleagues, self or God). Illness does have a way of forcing us to examine the patterns of our lives more closely than usual.” It will mean huge changes! In my life and how i’m treated in the community; It may mean less attention; It may require learning a whole new way of operating; It may mean taking more responsibility for my wholeness. Note the disabled man didn’t answer the question – but began with reasons why he hadn’t been healed; sometimes we have fallen into depression and the accelerator of self-pity.; it may mean confronting doubt and cynicism – “I’ll never be healed…I’m not sure anyone cares anyway.”
The church is called to be a healing community, a hospital for the healing of the whole person. Two opportunities for healing we need to take advantage of are Healing Prayer (in services, in calling for the leaders of the church, James 5), or in praying for one another in spiritual friendships. Another is pastoral and professional counseling that are available as we seriously seek to address the elephants in our living room.
In weeks ahead, we will address several Elephants in our lives and communities. Downloads of sermons are available – just follow the Elephant on the Christ Church Home Page!