Can Authentic Christians be Chronic Abusers?

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20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen. 21 And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.  (1 John 4)

To begin with, a man’s actions mark him out.  They characterise him, they qualify him and they prove his allegiances and his God.  In the case of a Christian, love is what proves us. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples” (John 13:35).

If we love God at all, it is because He loved us first. It follows then that if we have God’s love in us we would automatically love God’s people over and above even our own unsaved family.  Because our love FOR God is actually the love OF God himself. But how is love proven?  It is very simple. God sacrificed himself to bring us again to himself, His love lead inevitably to the willingness to die in order to restore His people. So it follows that a loving Christian parent nurtures their child.  A loving Christian sibling values, approves and respects their siblings.  A loving Christian pastor protects, supports (materially and spiritually) and teaches his flock.  A loving Christian marriage partner lays their lives down for the other.  True love is both felt and seen and it involves actively caring for and fellowshipping with the other.  Chronic abuse of other Christians proves not love but hate.

The conclusion I have come to is that even a true Christian can develop really bad habits, but they prove their genuine faith by responding to the love of God and repenting of their ways when they are confronted with their sin.  Anyone who says he has no sin and that the person who accuses them must be the sinner is not an authentic born-again Christian. They have not the love of God within them, because they prove by their refusal to humble themselves and their hard-heartedness that they are lost. They need prayer, they need to hear the genuine gospel and they need to be born from above.

When Christian people you trust and love prove themselves untrustworthy and capable of betrayal, a Christian’s worldview is shaken.  When that same Christian attempts to reason with the person who has betrayed them and finds that the betrayer does not want to either admit to or apologise for (or make fake apologies for) what they have done, the Christian becomes distressed and upset.  When their betrayer then turns around and expects them to forgive them and forget what happened and pretend it never happened, the pain of this becomes too much to bear.  Many questions swirl around a Christian’s head, not the least being ‘was the betrayer actually a Christian to begin with?’ .  It is a fair question.

I would first of all suggest that we demarcate the differences between ‘offenses’ which the scriptures help us to deal with (Matthew 18 is a good example) and ‘abuse’ which is more about character disorder and chronic offense  often not just with one person but with many.  In the case of a church elder or leader who has abused many in the congregation and has refused time and time again to either acknowledge or repent of their sins against others and at the same time expects their congregation to remain silent about what happened and never even mention it to others, then you have all the elements of a reprobate.  No Christian who loves God and God’s family will abuse in this way.

Some may have developed a carnal lifestyle because of lack of genuine teaching and a failure to mature and act out of ignorance.  But all genuine believers, because of the presence of the conviction of the Holy Spirit are able to a) recognise sin and b) repent of it out of the understanding that sin separates and confession and forgiveness reconciles. It might take some discussion with mature believers who can help the offender recognise that their actions and beliefs are irreconcilable with scripture, but it is possible to bring people like this to their senses.

It’s those who steadfastly maintain, over time, that they are faultless in the face of not one but many accusations of abuse that we must call out, accuse of their sins in public and hope that they will eventually come to a place of crying out to God.  It is a terrible thing but there are people who identify as Christians who will never cry out to God in repentance or even acknowledge to themselves that their actions are not just sinful but in many cases criminal.  I am not just talking about rapists, child molesters and serial adulterers.  There are many in churches today who repeatedly indulge sexual sins of all types.  There are many in churches today who think it is their right to control and manipulate other Christians. There are many who cover over their sins, persuade others to cover for them and ensnare weak minded and immature believers.  Chronic abusers are not just damaging themselves, they are damaging the body of Christ.

Jesus and Paul had a lot to say about the ‘weaker brother’.  Paul even went so far as to say he would rather become a vegetarian if eating meat caused a weaker brother to stumble. (1 Corinthians 8:13) This is a rather dramatic statement.  Yet how many Christian leaders today have this level of humility, this level of self-sacrifice to their church members?  Very few. But its not just church leaders who fail in this.  Church members, ordinary Christians who run businesses or act as ‘counsellors’ or teach Sunday School or influence other church members in some way can be guilty of reprobate behaviour.  In short they are hating their brothers and sisters by treating them as lesser beings or beings whose lives don’t even register.  Hurting fellow Christians can take on the characteristics of kicking a dog or stepping on an insect.  These people may believe that Jesus Christ is their Saviour, but how can these people claim to be loving others when they are acting like this?

This issue is not a delicate one.  It is not enough to simply excuse the pastor because ‘it has nothing to do with me’.  It is not enough to turn the other cheek when chronic abuse is happening.  Scripture tells us that every fact should be verified by the witness of the two or three. If anyone is to bring an accusation against an elder there should be again a witness to the fact.  In the case of Brisbane Christian Fellowship, the witnesses number two or three hundred at least, and I would suggest even two or three thousand by this date.  The same applies to individuals who are not leaders.  But what happens when that fact is established beyond reasonable doubt?  The answer is not just to hope that it all goes away and never speak of it again.  I propose that the answer is to keep speaking about it until the abuser repents and acknowledges that their actions have damaged lives.  If it means that the accusations have to go public, then it is necessary.

Two thousand years ago, you could ‘take it to the church’ as Jesus mentions in Matthew 18 if the accused will not repent.  In today’s culture, when it is the church who encourages and protects abusers, we take it to the wider Christian body.  Even in the face of malicious charges of ‘just being bitter’, or ‘not dealing with it privately’ it is necessary to speak up, and keep speaking up.  Why is this necessary?  To annoy the abuser?  NO, because of love.

How can ‘airing your dirty linen’ be a loving act?  Because the pain of betrayal means that the betrayed need the offense, the sin of abuse to be brought out into the open in order that the deeds done in darkness will be brought to the light.  Only then can the relationship hope to be mended, and only then can the abuser hope to be changed into Christlikeness.  Most chronic abusers don’t want to deal with this.  But it is their only hope. The reason they became chronic abusers in the first place is because their actions were not dealt with properly after the first time they offended in this way.  They need restoration, renewal and transformation, and only God can do that for them.

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  (1 John 1)

When the betrayer confesses, recognises the pain and destruction to the relationship and willingly concedes the need to repair the damage, there can once again be true fellowship.  Christians who see no need to either confess or repent of sins against relationship do not value relationship.  This is why it is neither helpful nor scriptural to insist that a woman who is being physically abused by her husband should ‘submit’.  A woman in this situation needs help, and there needs to be distance between her and her husband and she needs to protect her children if necessary.  The only way that marriage can mend is if the abuser changes, and that can be a wife or husband.  The only way that they can change is if it is made abundantly clear that other christians around them will not tolerate them in their midst if they keep abusing.

A loving Christian does not deliberately offend others, does not abuse when confronted with their sins, does not incite abuse by others against the one they offended.  Again, a chronic abuser who does all of these things does not have the right to be called an authentic Christian by the church.  We MUST have, not a standard of behaviour, but a recognition that actions are determined by choices and choices by faith.  Our love for God and His people will cause us to make every effort to bring the abuser to repentance even if it means turning them out of the church.  If every Christian takes a zero tolerance approach to abuse in their own lives, we will all be doing each other a great favour.  But love needs must be extended to those who abuse.  And loving the abuser means making extremely painful decisions and being willing to follow through on them.

 

 

 

 

 

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Do You See Me?

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I received an email update from a forum I am part of the other day.  It contained a vivid and extremely disturbing account of the victim of a rape whilst out with a group of college students.  This account is actually so disturbing and vivid that I would caution anyone who has been through a similar incident not to click on the following link as it will trigger you.  But for those with stronger stomachs, you can read the story here.

This story is from a young woman who attended John Macarthur’s Masters College.  She had had what she describes as ‘three glorious years’ training to be a counsellor, and this event occurs in the last year of her training.  Here is en excerpt from the beginning of the story.

Spring break starts tomorrow. I was going to go home today but last night I hit my head and suffered a concussion. The doctor said I need to take it easy so I decide to stay on campus and catch up on rest and homework. Not to brag or anything but I hang out with the smart crowd, and the smart crowd hangs out with the seminary students from The Master’s Seminary. They invite me to go to a play in town and then to dinner. I probably shouldn’t but it’s an approved outing as some of the seminary guys are bringing their girlfriends, and of course there will be no drinking, drugs, or dancing. We all had to sign a contract that we would not do those three things while attending Masters. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t drink or do drugs anyway.

Four of the seminary students live together and I know three of them. The fourth, a stranger who I have met maybe once, sits by me at dinner and asks if he can get me a soda. I thank him and say yes, but about a half an hour later I start to feel foggy. Everyone begins to discuss going ballroom dancing after dinner. I want to weigh in but my words are slurring and I can’t move my legs. The rest of my friends start laughing because I’m acting funny. They remember I suffered a concussion yesterday and think I need to go to bed. They urge the stranger to take me to my dorm room so I can rest. By this time he has to carry me out of the restaurant. No one thinks this is strange or seems at all concerned. I black out.

I will draw a veil over the rest of her account except to say this.  The treatment she received from the Master’s College teaching and admin staff was literally sickening.  After  having been to the police and the doctor, this young woman goes to those in charge at the college and is interviewed in a frankly disturbing and completely unprofessional way.

I tell him every excruciating detail I can remember…

Rick leaves the room several times to go talk to John MacArthur. He comes back with John’s ruling on the matter. Rick tells me that I need to be disciplined for doing drugs, drinking alcohol and almost dancing. He said the consequence for breaking the rules is that I will be kicked out of the college. He is angry at me for going to the police and the doctor. I should have let the church handle this without outside interference. He tells me not to tell anyone else, not my fellow classmates, not my teachers, not anyone at church.

“You are ruining that young man’s life!” He says.

He tells me I have to go to the police and drop the charges or I will be brought in front of the church to be disciplined. I don’t drop the charges. Not that it matters. The police interviewed my rapist and all the “friends” who were there and ruled it a “he-said, she-said” incident that can’t be proven either way.

I don’t keep quiet either. I reach out to the professors who “disagree with John MacArthur on a few things.” They won’t see me. People are avoiding me. I feel their whispers. Even close friends are acting weird.

Throughout the whole ordeal, the rapist’s situation and feelings are given priority and is treated as a victim and the victim of the rape is treated as the criminal.

I am standing outside the door to Rick’s office. I take a deep breath and feel confident that I am strong enough to do whatever it is that he asks me to do. I open the door and am shocked to see the stranger sitting there. I am starting to shake and sweat. Rick asks me to sit down by my rapist. Rick speaks for the rapist.

“He has admitted to everything he has done. He has acknowledged his sin and that this relationship was not consensual and he has repented. Look at him, he is crying.”

I don’t want to look at him but I do. I feel panicked sitting this close to him. I am wondering why I have to be present if it has become clear that I am innocent. Why wasn’t I immediately reinstated in school?

“Now it is your turn to apologize.”

I am not hearing right. I think that Rick Holland has just asked me to apologize to my rapist.

“Apologize for what?” I ask.

Rick says something about apologizing for the dress I was wearing at the bar and for drinking alcohol. He says I caused this young man to stumble, and he is incensed that I have not dropped the charges with the police. He says he has been talking to Joe and Sandra and my RD and they all say that my story keeps changing. I wonder why they are all allowed to talk about it but I am not. If I am to be reinstated in the school I must agree to weekly counseling with Rick and the stranger. I am told that the stranger and I have committed this sin together and therefore we must work through it together. I must agree to sit next to the stranger in church every week.

I don’t know where to begin. Do I start with the fact that I didn’t put that dress on or how my story isn’t changing, I am just remembering more things? I feel confused and angry. I am yelling. I hear more accusations coming out of Rick’s mouth. I am not submissive. I don’t trust the men that God has put over me. I am rebellious. He is angry and I cannot keep up with all of the attacks on my character that are flying out of his mouth. I am kicked out of school. I have less than twenty-four hours to get my things out of my room and get out. If I show up on campus, I will be arrested. They are changing my three years of earned college credits from A’s to F’s. I have flunked out of college.

There are a number of websites which discuss what happens at the Masters College and also at John Macarthur’s church.  He is by all accounts a bully and a bigot and will not countenance anyone who does not agree with everything he says.  I have seen too many men like this who run megachurches. This young woman’s experience is not unusual, and if you go to the website I linked to and read the 90 odd responses (probably more since this account was published) you will see more corroborating evidence.

Speaking up about abuse is vital, but speaking up about abuse always involves risk. People may not believe you.  People in particular who know the high profile leaders of the college will have a vested interest in rejecting accusations against their heroes.  Scripture tells us when bringing a reviling report against an elder to have two or three witnesses.  Even when there are more than two or three witnesses, people will still not believe you.

When you have been as damaged as this woman has, you don’t have the emotional capacity to deal with further abuse from those you trusted to protect you.  She had no reason to doubt that Rick Holland and John Macarthur would turn on her when she needed their protection the most.  Yet they supported and protected somebody she had never even met before.

Every comment I read on the website supported and ‘saw’ this young woman.  It was heartening to know that so many responded so well.  Yet, this is nearly twenty years after the event, and it would have been good for her to have had that support when the rape  occurred.

When somebody hears about abuse, they often want to minimise its severity or undermine the account by the victim in some way so that they either don’t have to process what they are hearing or consider that somebody they like or admire is in fact a criminal and possibly a morally insane individual.

If we ever hear an account of abuse from somebody and it sounds unreal or difficult to process, remember that cognitive dissonance is a normal reaction to having your belief system challenged. Nobody wants to believe that somebody they have thought of as trustworthy would do what they are being accused of doing.  But just because you have not seen the abuse, or the abuse hasn’t happened to you, doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen to the victim. Often the official response is that the victim is making it up, or that somehow they caused the abuse themselves, especially in rape cases.  This is rarely true. Every account of rape should be treated with due sobriety and concern, and in particular, if necessary, the victim should be assured that their case will be immediately investigated.

Whether we believe what is being told to us or not, if we understand that the first response is usually unbelief and discomfort, we will be more likely to understand why the report sounds unbelievable.

Since this young woman’s report was not only corroborated by others who have been through what she has been through and by others who understand what the Master’s College administrative team are like under these kinds of circumstances, there can be no reason to doubt her account.  This has not only happened at this college, but at many other secular colleges and workplaces and churches.

In my mind, the most important aspect of this account is that while the college admin treated her rape with less than Christian mercy and compassion, they also deliberately sabotaged her academic career and destroyed any hope she might have had to complete her degree and recover her dignity and heal.  It is one thing not to believe a person when they tell you they have been raped, it is quite another to consciously slander and destroy that person’s reputation and standing in a christian community.  She had not previously shown herself to be promiscuous or of bad character nor had her academic record proven any lack of intelligence or ability.  There was patently no defensible reason to attack this young woman.  Yet they went out of their way to make sure she was punished for not simply bowing to their bullying and abuse.

Sadly and frustratingly, this is happening to women everywhere.  Infuriatingly, it is happening in Christian churches and communities.  Not only do Christians themselves find it difficult to know how to respond to this kind of traumatic event, non-Christians find these situations pretty horrific.  How is this possible in places where people claim to be motivated by the love of God? It is possible because people lie about who they are, and it is possible because even Christians get to choose their actions.  People can choose to do ugly wicked things just because.  There doesn’t even need to be a reason, they just feel like being ugly.  When a rapist or abuser becomes a predator there needs to be more than just decisive and rapid response.  There needs to be a finality.  Deal with the abuse, get rid of the threat to the safety of those who are vulnerable, and don’t even think about blaming the victim.  It’s that simple.

How Satan Works

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Be sober, be vigilant; because[c] your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may[d] the God of all grace, who called us[e] to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.  (1 Peter 5:8-11)

The overriding means by which Satan works is described in Scripture. He prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, the enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy.

Prowling suggests stealth and predation. He is looking for those who are the weakest so that he may devour them.

A roaring lion is declaring his territory. We know that demons or fallen angels have their own geographical areas over which they have been given authority. Their authority however is limited to the demonic realm. They can influence and affect human beings and also enter into them and control them and in this way they have power over what humans do. Most heinous crimes are not committed by human beings on their own, they are willing accomplices to demonic plans and purposes. Sometimes this happens without their knowledge but never without their consent. I am not talking about Satan worshippers, I am talking about ordinary human beings who willingly engage in sin which opens the door to the demonic realm and creates strongholds which then turn into gateways for demonic beings and their associates to come in and take hold of that human being. And the last state of the man is worse than the first.

Satan told Jesus Christ that he could give Him the kingdoms of the earth if He fell down and worshipped him. The absolute arrogance and foolishness of this statement proves that Satan himself is deceived. He is deluded, he is insane. He was in eternity before the throne of God leading the worship of God, and here he is demanding that Jesus worship him. Mostly of course his methods are not this direct and confrontational. I have heard stories of believers who have met with Satan in this kind of way, but they are few and far between. Usually we have to deal with subtle or else not so subtle attacks.

So Satan is about stealing that which does not belong to him. He is about murdering, or taking life and he is about destroying. He not only destroys and kills those who are under his power, he destroys and kills Christians, as the many thousands of martyrs over the centuries will attest to. I don’t believe Satan has been given power over the church in the way that he will have over the saints during the Tribulation for example. I think those who have been killed as martyrs for the faith were a small percentage of the church and those ones will receive a greater reward for their suffering in heaven. I think causing death is probably not something God allows for every Christian, only those who are appointed to it as the apostles and others were. On the whole, Satan wishes to destroy but is thwarted by God as in the case of Job. There are many other examples of believers who have been saved from death by angels or just circumstances which change. I have read many stories of those who were saved from certain death simply by listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit and changing their travel plans for example.

Following are ten methods which I have found in my own life and the lives of others I have known that Satan uses to steal, kill and destroy the work of God and the people of God. This list is by no means exhaustive, but I thought it was kind of fun to be alliterative. Please add your own entries to the list in the comments section. I would love to hear from you.

Deception – either counterfeiting that which is of God or changing the gospel so that the power of God’s word is void because the Word which was brought by Jesus and the apostles is not being taught. Scripture tells us that the power of the Word of God is unto salvation. This is not possible if the actual word of God is not being taught.

For example, if it is taught that Jesus is not the Son of God, or God himself, and simply a ‘good teacher’, and there is some other way of entering heaven, or finding God the creator/father, then this is a false gospel. It has no power, except to deceive, and deception as the means Satan uses to enslave human beings is extremely powerful.

Jesus told his disciples to be careful that they would not be deceived.

Discouragement – causing doubt and fear to come upon the believer

Despair – causing the believer to cease believing

Dismemberment – attempting to pull apart anything that is knit together, such as families, marriages or congregations

Devolution – attempting to cause the work of God to go backward to its original state or cease to exist

Derangement – attempting to cause the work of God to be disjointed or to cease working in a way which brings glory to God

Dissolution – attempting to dissolve groups or communities completely so they no longer exist as such

Disunity – creating discord and ill feeling amongst the body of Christ

Distraction – causing individual believers or groups to lose focus on what God has called them to do, usually with the things of the world. The things of the world are designed to distract us from the things of God.

Deadly Sins – Causing the believer to be overwhelmed with the weight of sin and causing them to be so filled with doubt that they do not come to Jesus to be washed and forgiven.

McChristianity

 

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Macdonalds’ is of course the most successful fast-food restaurant in the world. It has outlets in every city in every suburb of every city in the western world, and it extends into areas like China and Russia which would have been impossible a few years ago. Macdonalds’ food is not high quality. That has never been in dispute. However, it sells. That is the main point. Macdonalds are not out to bring health and wellbeing to every person in the world, they are out to make a profit at the expense of the health of everyone who eats their products which famously have so much sugar in them they really should be considered confectionary.

With McDonald’s, it isn’t about content, it is about giving people what they want; fast comfort food laced with sugar and salt. We have grown up on Macdonald’s, we continue to take our children, and we are not teaching them that this food is bad for you, we are inculcating our children with the idea that family and Macdonald’s goes together. Therefore the emotional hook is laden with cheeseburgers and sundaes. Or did you want fries with that.

This business model of giving people what they want has been adopted by the church. Like Macdonald’s, they have sacrificed what is good and right on the altar of worldly success.

What began as something which Jesus himself proclaimed was sought by the few who could afford to give everything they had to buy it has become a cheap knock-off. The gospel has become today’s fake gold cartier watch being sold on stands in the street for $20.00. Anybody who thinks they can buy genuine cartier for $20 is clearly ignorant of the facts. Likewise, anybody who thinks that they can purchase the pearl of great price cheaply or for nothing is also ignoring the facts. Yet so many Christians today are flocking to a fake gospel which presents cheap knock-offs of the original simply to pull in the thousands to their churches in order to be entertained with music, comedy, emotional appeals to their pocket books, the lie that they can partake in something valuable and meaningful for the small price of 10% of their income plus whatever amount they want to give to the building programme.

McChristianity has fooled the millions who believe that partaking in the Kingdom of God can be had cheaply. Yet the gospel tells us that if we want to follow Jesus we must take up our cross and follow him. We are called to lay down our lives, not try and save them or we will in fact lose our lives. This is not a paradox, it is a truth. Our lives are not to be saved at the expense of our souls. We do not belong to this earth, and the sooner we realise that the greater will be our commitment and sacrifice to Jesus our Lord.

Searching For The Body

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Mark 5 (New King James)

36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” 37 And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. 38 Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. 39 When He came in, He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.”

40 And they ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. 41 Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement. 43 But He commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat.

John 11 (New King James)

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”

When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”

a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

Luke 24

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them,[a] came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly[b] perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!

Have you ever noticed how many bodies are spoken of in the New Testament?

There is of course the literal body of Christ. We know that Jesus’ body was laid in a tomb, but on the third day, when Mary and the others went to the garden, the Angel asked why they look for the living among the dead. It must have been a wonderful and joyful shock to know that He whom they loved and had mourned for was now alive.

Then there is the body of Christ which is the body of believers both past present and future. We who believe, love and obey the Lord Jesus Christ are the temples of His Holy Spirit, and belong to Him. We are the ones Paul mentioned when he talked about each of us being members of one another (Romans 12), and that no member of the body can say to another ‘we have no need of you’. (1 Corinthians 12).

In both cases, the body of Jesus is a living and breathing being. It is not dead. The Spirit of God dwells in each believer and causes his once dead spirit to become alive to the mind of Christ, to the will of the Father and to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

There are of course other bodies.

The bodies of Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus.

It’s really interesting that both in the case of Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus, Jesus mentioned that these were not bodies, but they were people who were merely asleep. Nobody believed Him of course. They laughed at him in the case of Jairus’ daughter. But Jesus knew what he was talking about. A sleeper is someone who is in fact still alive. They are unconscious to the world around them and will shortly wake up and once again be ‘alive’ to the world. Dead people and sleeping people have much in common bar one important distinction. Dead people do not wake up.

Spiritually speaking, the dead are not ‘awake’ to the reality of God. ‘Let the dead bury the dead’ said Jesus to the young man who wanted to follow him. In other words, those who are not willing to follow Jesus, who do not come to Him and look to Him for salvation are dead to the kingdom of God. We who are alive in our spirits are no longer dead. So, those who believe in Jesus, those like the woman with the issue of blood, Jairus and his daughter, Mary, Martha and Lazarus do not die, they merely sleep. Paul also referred to those believers who sleep in 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians.

Interestingly, in both the case of Jairus and Lazarus, Jesus delayed his coming. He saw the faith of those who asked him to heal, but he knew that in both cases it was God’s will that instead of a healing there should be a raising of the body to the glory of God. Many didn’t believe that he could raise a dead body. There were not just cautions from people who cared about Him, “Lord he has been dead four days”, but there was mocking laughter from those who thought Jesus was a bit loopy. Jesus answer to the mocking was to ‘put them all outside”. He removed the mockers and spoke to the family. This was their home. This was their daughter and he spoke with compassion and concern. After he raised their daughter to life, he told them to feed her. I think this is also significant. A body which has recently died and then resurrected needs nourishment and care in order to continue living. Jesus did not raise this little girl to see her fail from lack of food. The parents were probably so overjoyed that they forgot about the practical things. She had probably not eaten for days due to the sickness, and now here she was pulsing with new life, and ready to partake of the energy and goodness which sustenance gives us.

I find it really poignant that in this chapter, Jesus heals a woman with a flow of blood and who has a deep faith that even touching his garment will heal her. She had life flowing from her, for life is in the blood, yet her faith moved her to seek out Jesus, even after he had been summoned by somebody else for the healing of someone probably much more severely affected. This lady didn’t want to draw attention to herself, probably because she would have been unclean and she didn’t want Jesus to have to touch her and thereby become unclean himself. What she didn’t know was that Jesus would not have been unclean from touching her and it was her faith which drew power from Him in order that she should be healed. This is a beautiful picture of weakness and impoverishment from illness which is wonderfully healed by Jesus without even his conscious partaking in it. It was her faith which made her whole.

Later, He looks for faith from Jairus’ family in order that he might be able to raise their daughter from the dead. In my opinion faith is sorely needed in the church today.

The church in this country is sick and dying. It has an issue of blood. It is not only weakened by this flow of life, but it is unclean because of this flow, and it needs to come to Jesus in faith and be healed. Like the Jairus family, the church also needs to be regenerated.

We have been searching for the body of Christ for some time. He was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit. He now sits at the throne of the Father, but his body, we, the sheep of His pasture, are all of us going our own way. We not only need to return to the lover of our souls and the good shepherd, but we need his resurrection power to return us to the place of true and genuine commitment to each other and to the ministry of the Holy Spirit through each and every one of us, that’s men women and children, in and through us.

The women of the body need to step out in their Spirit giftings. They need to know they are accepted as equals by their brothers, so that they may be able to preach the gospel, share what God has given them with the rest of the body and not tethered to the traditions of men and religion and forbidden with sour and bitter remonstrations not to preach or teach because Jesus doesn’t allow it.

Since when does Jesus not allow his sisters in the Lord to walk in the Spirit, to hear the voice of God and to speak the word which they hear in their hearts? If those words happen to be words of encouragement, prophecy, wisdom, teaching or edification, then such is the will of the Holy Spirit and he should not be blocked, or He will be offended. If a woman has a heart for the body of a carer and a helper, should she be stopped because of her sex and made to sit in the pews and wait while another more acceptable, male, member of the body do the ministering? None of this even makes sense!!

No, the body of Christ is less than what it is meant to be. Mainly because of the headstrong stubborn and wicked hearts of human beings who prefer to remain bound in their own doctrines and religious traditions. We are all one in Christ!!! The body is all around us, yet she is ill and needs to be not only healed, but risen from the dead!