Picture this. A person enters a hospital with a wound that needs medical attention. It just so happens that in this hospital is a doctor that has never lost a patient. His healing methods have never failed, not even once, to completely heal and restore his patient. After consulting with the Resident under him, this doctor sends the resident to the patient with instructions for a guaranteed recovery. But the patient rejects what the Resident doctor has suggested, even though it came directly from this great Physician. Instead, the patient lays around the hospital, moaning, whining, and complaining that this great physician has not healed his wound in hopes of getting the attention, sympathy and confirmation of those who are also there to recover.
Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? But it happens everyday.....in the local church.
I've heard it preached by t.v. preachers and even local men that the church is a hospital where those who are wounded or dying can come to receive healing. And I have to admit, that is the general attitude of a lot of church attending people. But I submit to you that the church is not a hospital. It is an army that happens to have a medical unit! The medical unit is by far one of the smallest parts of this army!
In order to enter the U.S military, you have to pass a physical. If you have problems, you must have them attended to before you are admitted to the service. The goal being that when you enter the service of your country, you are ready to train and fight. You are equipped with all the things necessary for survival and victory. You are placed in a unit with others like yourself where you become as one, comrades, brothers and sisters. Your life becomes so intertwined with theirs that you would gladly take a bullet to save one of them. If you happen to get wounded, you are sent to the medical unit for treatment and recovery for the explicit purpose of returning to your unit to continue in the struggle against your enemies. The goal and purpose of the medical unit is to return you to health and strength and effectiveness.
Now if you entered the medical unit and refused to receive treatment, or disobeyed the doctor's orders, you would be dishonorably discharged and sent packing. The military does not have time nor resources to babysit or pamper someone who refuses to heal.
The church is very much like the military. The only difference is that there are too many folks sitting in a pew, taking up the Pastor's time, who refuse to heal. Some of those have already been discharged from God's army because of their stubbornness and rebellion, but didn't pay attention to the memo. Instead they choose to sit and suck up as much attention as possible, all in the name of compassion, mercy, caring, and love. "It's what Jesus would give me", they say.
No it isn't!!!!! Jesus sent the rich young ruler packing because he refused to obey the Lord's orders. "Go and sell all that you have and give it to the poor." Was Jesus unloving? No! of course not. But the ruler would not play by God's rules, therefore the Kingdom that he sought was closed to him. Jesus didn't chase after him, tell him he could give most and keep some and gradually adhere to the requirements of the Kingdom. No, scripture says that he let him walk away and that "He loved him." Hmmmmm........perfect love let someone walk away from the entrance to the Kingdom of God. Interesting. Jesus didn't soften it, make it more palatable, or more politically correct, or more "seeker sensitive". He let the guy walk. If the ruler would have died that day, he would have gone to hell. He had refused the rules of citizenship for the Kingdom. But Jesus let him walk away.
When we are saved, Jesus equips us for battle! He washes us clean of sin! We die with Him and are raised NEW! We're not ourselves anymore! Old things pass away and ALL things become new!! Just as we cannot drag our baggage into the service, we cannot have baggage in the Kingdom of God. As we train in the Lord's army, the things of our former life drop off. If we are injured along the way, we recoup under the watchful eye of the Great Physician and those whom serve under Him and then, we get up and go!!!!
This is a fairly gross example, so if you have weak stomach, pass on to the next paragraph. A friend of ours shot a deer. When he hung it, he noticed that it was full of ticks, hundreds of them. As the deer hung and cooled from death, our friend heard a sound like rain drops, but it wasn't raining. He soon realized that the noise he heard was the ticks dropping off the dead deer. The deer was dead and therefore was no longer able to nourish the ticks.
This is a perfect example of what happens at salvation. We die to ourselves, to our old life. Sin, just like those ticks drops off because there is nothing there to nourish their insatiable desires! Then there is a new birth! We are born again, unto a new life, a different way of living! Our nature has changed. The things we used to love we hate. The sins that used to bring us pleasure now nauseate us. God cleans us up, sures us up, equips us with His Spirit and sends us as a soldier into the world! He doesn't send us out there limping, beaten up, and weak. No! His blood is powerful! It is life! It is strength!
There are no better soul winners than the newly saved! They run right back into the fray to declare what God has done for them and it is obvious to everyone that knows them that they are different! They left their baggage at the door and allowed the Lord to dispose of it. They took what the Lord issued them and went with it! Along the way, there will be times when they will need the medical unit. But hopefully they will obey the doctor's orders and trust his assistants. Hopefully they will not try to receive healing on their own terms, but will rest in the knowledge that their physician has never lost a patient that has allowed Him to treat their malady in His own way. Every one has been completely restored and strengthened and returned to the field of battle.
But what about those who won't listen or obey? They are discharged. They lose out with God. Unfortunately sometimes they try to hang around and feed off of those who do have life and if allowed to hang on will suck the life out of every believer in the congregation. They become extra baggage that slows the army of God.
As believers, we must have the discernment of God to identify and deal with these parasites. Allowing them to hang on to the belief that they are still part of the body is like Jesus granting access to the Kingdom of God to the rich, young ruler while he still would not comply with the Lord's requirements. They live a lie that will only be revealed by eternity and we stand with their blood on our hands. We must be willing to allow the sword that Jesus brought to divide the saint and the sinner. We must tell the truth, even when it hurts another's emotions or psych in order to save their soul! Sometimes we have to make them mad before they can be glad! Sometimes we have to let them go in order for them to truly come!
War is hard! Battles are grueling! And we are engaged in the fight of the ages! If we obey the commander's orders, we are guaranteed victory! If we don't, we put everyone around us in jeopardy! If we are wounded, we must take the Master's medicine and run back to the battle. Wallowing in self pity, wondering if the Lord is able, and grumbling, whining and complaining is grounds for discharge. It says that the Blood of Jesus does not have the power to deal with "my" problems. And there you have it! The real problem--ME!
Dr. James Dobson says that dysfunction is another word for sin. He is right! Anything that revolves around "us" is death! Scripture tells us that the soldier does not allow himself to become entangled in the problems of this world, in the problems of everyday life. No, our focus is on the one we serve, HIS purposes, HIS vision. And when our eyes are on Him alone, all those things that would trip us up seem to dim somehow. And when we listen to His voice, obey His commands, and follow His prescription, well, those dysfunctions, those sins, those cares of life seem to somehow get taken care of by and through His powerful grace!