Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Musings from a Therapy Clinic...

    This morning my husband had physical therapy while I sat in the waiting area and worked on my Bible study.   As I read Luke 17 in the Wuest translation, I could hear my husband saying things like, "Okay... so I need to do this.. and then I can do this..."
     The goal was clearly to heal some internal injury which was making the whole body miserable.
     As I listened to occasional  background phrases concerning various exercises, I  tried to focus on the passage before me.
    First, Jesus talks about how it is inevitable that people will cause others to stumble.  But He warns that the one who causes a weaker brother to stumble would be better off dead.  It's not a light thing to hinder someone in their Christian walk or cause them to leave it altogether.  I had to wonder how many people I've stumbled in my life by careless talk, angry talk, whining, gossip... And I had to ask God to forgive me.
   Then Jesus abruptly changes course.  One minute He's talking about not stumbling someone else.  Then He tells the disciples to "Watch themselves!"  and launches into directives about what to do when a brother hurts them. Okay. Not sure what one has to do with the other... But I get the main message.
   Essentially He is telling  them to go to the one who sinned against them and  to confront that person  with the truth.  At that point, if the brother repents, then forgiveness must be offered and healing if you will, takes place.
   I looked at those verses in Luke while  still hearing occasional background noises at the therapy clinic (No screams... I promise!)
   And then I realized that Jesus' command here is somewhat like an exercise:  Confront - repent- forgive.
   How many times do you do this exercise?
   As often as needed.
   What is the point of all this?
   To heal an injury within the Body of Christ, among other things.
    I thought some more, prayed over it, and asked God what the warning about stumbling had to do with the prescription for dealing with wounds within the church.
    And, for what it's worth, this is what came to me:  it's not just that wounded people may get ticked and leave the church.  It goes much deeper. What about the walking wounded who stay in the church, festering with bitterness, anxious to tell everyone else about what so-and-so did to them?
    But it goes even deeper than that. What about the person who is young in the faith, the one  who is watching all this, hearing all this? What happens to them?
    Often they stumble in their walk and/or give it up altogether.
    Because Person A sinned against Person B and the injury was not dealt with quickly according to the Therapist's instructions, innocent bystanders are stumbled.  The injury spreads, worsens.
    And that is exactly what Jesus warned so strenuously against  at the beginning of Luke 17.  Do NOT stumble a weaker brother!  It would be better for you to have a big stone tied around your neck and for you to be thrown into the water than to cause someone else to be stumbled in their faith!!
    He doesn't say this about someone who sins against another brother.  He says this about someone who stumbles another brother.
    Sin happens.  Even within the body. But it doesn't have to fester. And it should never be allowed to stumble someone else. Sin happens between brothers and we've been told how to deal with it.
    Right now, when Phil exercises, I have to hold his body down while he raises his back and shoulders.  Together we count while he strains his back muscles and I use much of the strength in my arms to create resistance for him. In other words, some exercises call for two people working together.
    Jesus' procedure for healing wounds within the Body is like that:   the injured party confronts (speak the truth in love).  The one who did the wounding Repents.  The injured party forgives. Two or more people working together to heal a hurt within the Body.
    Confront.  Repent.  Forgive.
     Confront.  Repent.  Forgive.
     As often as needed.
    So that there are no walking wounded in the church.
    So that a sinner may be turned from his injurious ways.
    So that a weaker brother, an onlooker,  may not be stumbled.
    So that Satan may not gain a foothold in the body of Christ.
    Confront.  Repent.  Forgive.
    A directive  from the greatest healer the world has ever known.
    To His people.
    So that we may run the race that is before us  and receive the prize that He has laid up for us.


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