January 22, 2016

Church’s Mission is to Proclaim Healing & Freedom (Epiphany 3)

The story of Jesus reading the Isaiah Prophecy in the Synagogue and telling the people it was being fulfilled in their sight must have been a dramatic moment. Not only was Jesus claiming to be the long promised Messiah; He was re-defining the mission of the Messiah as preaching and proclaiming the love of God in healing and freeing His people. Those people, like us, were in deep spiritual darkness. They did not clearly know what God wanted. They did not all know how much God loved them. They did not all know how close a spiritual relationship God wanted to have with them. They did not understand the spiritual forces of evil that were deceiving them, blinding them and preventing them from coming into a relationship of joy with their God.

1. We are anointed to proclaim Good News of healing and freedom
People are starving for a relationship with God. Most people do not really know how to pray or what to expect. They are surrounded by conflicting and usually wrong information about what God wants. What they need is strong, authoritative preaching of the truth.

·         Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit – given divine authority
·         We are anointed in our Baptism to proclaim the Good News of Jesus
·         Proclaim is a verb – an aggressive, powerful action word
·         Proclaim by what we do and what we say
·         Being a good loving person is not necessarily proclaiming healing and freedom
·         Words have power to free people from prisons of fear and ignorance
·         Good News is that God has provided a new way to forgiveness through repentance, confession and belief in Jesus that can free people from their prison of sin and guilt so the Holy Spirit can come and live inside people to guide them and heal them.

2. We are to proclaim recovery of sight for the blind
Jesus healed people who were physically blind. Jesus healing miracles established His divinity and His authority as a spiritual teacher. This showed us that words have power in both the physical and spiritual dimension. This is why we pray. When we pray and receive permission from Jesus, we can act as a channel for healing the physically sick.
·         Jesus also healed the spiritually blind – blind could not see God’s healing and forgiveness in what in His time had become a ritualized religion
·         Early Christians experienced the Holy Spirit as a sign of God’s grace
·         Nehemiah Reading: “The people …celebrated with great joy because they now understood the words that had been made known to them…” (Nehemiah 8.12)
·         Holy Spirit continues to heal and guided people in their spiritual life
·         Holy Spirit prays through my voice when I lay hands on people for healing – I have no idea what I am proclaiming – but it works!

3. We are to proclaim healing and freedom for the prisoners
Since the Bible is a religious book this is not a reference to people in physical prisons. It refers to people in spiritual, religious and intellectual prisons. These invisible prisons can control and take the joy out of our lives.
  • Prison of sin-guilt – separates people from relationship with God
  • Prison of ignorance – racial superiority, wrong religious belief
  • Prison of unbelief – cannot believe in supernatural, miracles
  • Prison of false identity – not wanted child, worthless person etc.
As people Baptized into the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus we have all been anointed by the Holy Spirit to proclaim healing and freedom to people who are in these mental prisons.

4. We are to proclaim healing and release for the oppressed
This works on two levels. On the surface we are to protect the poor and the weak from economic and social oppression. This is all part of the Commandment to love our neighbour. On a deeper level we are also to pray for people to be released from spiritual oppression. The bad news is that we live on a sin polluted and demon infested planet where any un-confessed sin can open a spiritual doorway to our souls and give lying and deceiving spirits the right to oppress us:
  • Spirit of Alcoholism an easily understood example of how oppression gradually becomes more and more destructive – and incurable
  • Lying spirits push people into prisons of false identity – “no good” denying the goodness of God’s creation in each person
  • Religious spirits imprison people in wrong beliefs that steal love, joy and peace – extreme liberalism and extreme fundamentalism
 5. Many Churches are not really proclaiming healing and freedom
Our Anglican Church has been sidetracked from this mission by five decades of destructive debate between more liberal clergy who proclaim a powerless and vague message of love - without offering healing and freedom from the consequences of sin and guilt;  and more conservative clergy who proclaim a harsh message of judgement, sin and guilt - without offering real healing and freedom.  The Readings for today challenge us all to re-focus on the mission of the Church as prophesied by Isaiah and as adopted by Jesus:

Mission of re-reading our Bibles and believing the Good News of Healing and Freedom
·         So our spiritual eyes will be opened
·         So we can be freed from our mental and spiritual prisons
·         So we can be freed from our spiritual oppression
·         So we too will be spiritually anointed to proclaim the Good News

of healing and freedom to all God’s children in Jesus Name!

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