1975: American actor Jack Nicholson and others share a laugh in a still from the film, 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,' directed by Milos Forman. (Photo by Republic Pictures/Republic Pictures/Getty Images)
There’s an age-old debate among religious people regarding mental health and spirituality. One extreme believes that all mental health issues really come down to spiritual issues. Instead of mental health professionals and medication, sick people simply need “deliverance” from the spirits that are afflicting them. The other extreme believes that there are legitimate physiological issues concerning mental health that have nothing to do with spiritual issues. Instead of praying for these people, we ought to be getting them therapy and medication.
This brings us to the word of the day: DELIVERANCE
It’s time for church…
At the end of this digital church service there’s a place for comments. We’d love to hear from you. What did you take away from the service? What spoke to you? What do you have questions about? How can we do better to serve you and your friends and family? Thx!
On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astonished at the majesty of God.
But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
–Luke 9: 37-45
There is a natural tendency in the western world to dismiss elements of the supernatural in the biblical narratives. We hear “experts” saying things like, “Well, the young man must have suffered from epilepsy or some other affliction that made him act the way he did.” We like to sanitize the bits of the Bible that make us uncomfortable.
Like a person who acts completely bananas and the Bible calls it demonic possession.
But we cannot simply dismiss the parts that don’t fit within our cultural framework. Regardless of how you feel about the mental health profession or about exorcisms, the simply truth of the text is that we are presented with a case of spiritual attack. And notice how Luke describes the end-result of the encounter. It’s not really about a demon-possession and exorcism—it comes down to illness and healing. The power Jesus wields as a healer is the power that restores the young man to wholeness.
Sometimes we go through things that are physiological. Sometimes we go through things that are spiritual. Sometimes we go through things that are combinations of the two with no clear-cut distinction. That’s not really the point. The point is that the “majesty of God” has the power to heal WHATEVER afflicts us. It’s not about trying to control the demons or illnesses. It’s about recognizing that the power of God at work in Jesus can overcome any power seen in this world.
Rather than trying to fit the Bible in our framework, perhaps we should be remodeling our thinking to fit what God is trying to tell us.
His majesty is astonishing.
_ _ _
We’re going to have some reflection and response time. Think about the message and focus on the words of the songs.
Our first song is called “Open Up the Heavens.” It’s one of my favorites and is a cry out to God, asking for his presence in our midst.
Open up the heavens we want to see You
Open up the floodgates a mighty river
Flowing from Your heart
Filling every part of our praise
Our second song is “Waiting Here For You”. It declares the awesome wonder of God – the foundation and rock upon which we build our faith and lives. The song declares,
If faith can move the mountains
Let the mountains move
We come with expectation
Waiting here for You
Waiting here for You
– How do I need spiritual healing? Physical healing?
– Have I tried everything EXCEPT Jesus to solve the problem?
– Am I willing to ask Jesus to heal me?
– Am I willing to live with the answer if God says, “No.”?
MAKING IT REAL:
– This week, start being persistent in asking God to heal your affliction.
– At the end of the week share your God moments with us here on the site or on our page at Facebook.
– If you’ve never come to the place in your life where you have decided to be a follower of Jesus and want to know more, please shoot us a message and we’ll be glad to talk to you about what it means to be a follower!
Chris Linzey is husband to Tené, father to the three most beautiful children in the world, movie addict (seriously, if it’s on a screen he'll watch it—doesn’t matter how crummy or low-budget), and a Navy Chaplain, currently assigned to Naval Air Station, Meridian. Chris has a deep desire to help people live lives of faith where the Bible is more than mere words on a page, but the way we live everyday. His undergrad and Master’s studies were in Biblical Studies and he focused on the New Testament (his mentor was a Gospel of Mark scholar). He went on to get a Master of Divinity (MDiv) in Pastoral Preaching. Follow him at @chrislinzey.