by Ken Unger
The Lord has made wonderful promises to His end time Church; promises of restoration, abundant fruitfulness and prosperity. He’s predicted a Reformation of Righteousness that leaves no aspect of life untouched by the blessing of God:
“I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have compassion on his dwelling places; and the city shall be rebuilt… and the palace shall stand on its rightful place. And from them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of those who make merry; and I will multiply them, and they shall not be insignificant. Their children also shall be as formerly, and their congregation shall be established before Me; … and their leaders shall be one of them, and their ruler shall come from their midst; … In the latter days you will understand this” (Jer. 30:13-24).
The implication is clear. The Church will disciple the nations, leading them into the incredible blessings that only come to those who obey what Jesus taught. For this to happen, there is something He must do for us. As it stands the Church is neither ready, equipped nor capable of achieving His purposes. It’s too crippled to be an effective army.
The Church has been beaten, bound up and abused. In many places it’s too embattled to do anything beyond survival. The sheep have been wounded by the shepherds; the shepherds ravaged by wolves disguised as sheep; and the satanic lion is free to devour at will. A disabled soldier can’t fight, nor a lame tradesman build, nor a blind physician heal.
Most of Christ’s Body has also been weakened by the spiritual junk food of dispensational theology. It’s a belief system which shamelessly compromises the scriptures, spurning the notion that God still heals or has a crucial purpose for His Church in the latter days. And without that hope many embrace a shallow, escapist eschatology; one that asks no more of us than to break a few bad habits and stay in a celestial holding pattern, furiously circling just off the ground of hard core reality until Jesus returns to rescue us from our defeated, sin scarred existence.
Many are too weak and fearful for anything more rigorous. But for those who embrace Kingdom Christianity God predicts far better:
“I know the thoughts I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you and I will bring you back from captivity” (Jer. 29:11-14A).
Marvelous things come to those who wholeheartedly seek Him. Scriptures say we’ve not even conceived of the glorious things He’s prepared for those who love Him; things not limited to Heaven. Eternal life begins now for those who truly know Christ. And the Lord’s calling those who met Him into an intimate knowledge of Him; the kind that enables us to fulfill our highest and noblest destinies.
For that to happen He must heal our wounds. Until we’re mentally, spiritually and emotionally healthy His purposes will be hampered, His hands literally tied by the ropes of His people’s bondages. for much of the church is so unhealthy and babes born into it wouldn’t be discipled or healed. And the Lord loves the lost too much to allow that.
Thank God He’ll feed our hunger for healing. He can heal us, body, soul and spirit:
“For I will restore you to health and I will heal you of your wounds, declares the Lord” (Jer. 30:17A). It’s crucial to His end time plan (vs. 24). And God always keeps His promises.
Without a reformation of righteousness the Church is not ready for revival. If the Lord sent a harvest of new Christians we wouldn’t have enough spiritual nurseries to keep them alive let alone raise them to maturity. But that is not the only reason we are not ready for revival. The Church is too wounded to evangelize, disciple or heal the broken people God wants to reach.
The reason for this is simple. Most people do not come to Christ when they are doing well; they come when they are usually pretty messed up. And unfortunately, few churches are equipped to heal these walking wounded. That is why any church that wants to be used in the upcoming harvest must face its own people’s need for healing and prepare to minister to it. Only then will the world stop saying, “Physician heal thyself.” Only then can God send us the harvest for which we’re praying.
Secular man faces unparalleled problems. Multiple divorce, working mothers, work addicted fathers, abortions, adultery, AIDS, homosexuality, alcoholism, pornography, drug abuse, money abuse, rageaholics, food addictions, rape, violent assault and painful rejection have decimated our society. No one is untouched by slavery to sin and disease. If we think we can lead these people through the sinner’s prayer and persuade them that they don’t have to resolve the damage sin did to them we’re consigning them to an early spiritual death. The Lord loves the lost too much to send revival before we can bring them to health and maturity.
It is estimated that one in three people need serious psychological help. One in six of us will spend time in a psychiatric hospital. And of those who enter the secular mental health system I’m told 93% depend on counselors or drugs for the rest of their lives. Sadly, the Church hasn’t done much better with the hurting. We are known as the only army that shoots its wounded. No wonder people today are so hopeless. There is a hunger for healing that medicine and psychology can’t satisfy. If we can’t offer them Christ’s true healing, New Age religion will offer them its twisted version, and they’ll be worse off instead of better.
But there is good news. Though many Christians have also been wounded by sin that very fact contains the seeds for hope. It is as if the Lord allowed the Church to get inoculated so we can provide the spiritual medicine our sin sick world needs. As we get the healing we need, we’ll also receive the training and sensitivity necessary. Any church that learns to restore the health of its members is preparing to heal the hurting world in which we live. Better yet, the healing God creates for His people a contagious quality of Christian life and a spontaneous flow of His love. It uncorks the fountains of life, shedding abroad rivers of living water to slake the thirsty people in the dry, arid spiritual deserts of our modern world.
In the wake of that, revival can safely come. And when it comes, (when, not if) God’s people will be ready, willing and enthusiastically able to participate in it. For once they have touched His healing Love they will be compelled to pass it on no matter what the cost.
Ken Unger is director of One Life Ministries, which is dedicated to equipping the church for Kingdom Christianity and a Reformation of Righteousness.