Sitting with the Shepherd
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (James 5:14-15 NKJV)
We live in a time of fierce independence and as a result there are many believers that identify themselves as Christians and are not part of God's visible organization on earth, the church. It's not that being determines whether or not you are a Christian, because it doesn't. I have heard it said that "being in a church doesn't make you a Christian any more than sitting in a donut shop makes you cop!" But on the other hand it is difficult to live the Christian life, serving God faithfully and fruitfully, without being part of a strong supportive community of believers. It's kind of like being a great football quarterback without playing on a team. It just doesn't make sense.
There are times in everyone's life when they get out of sorts or out of step and encounter circumstances that are difficult to navigate. That is simply part of the human condition. There are sicknesses that are the result of sin and others that are pure physical. When we are actively involved in a church we have the opportunity to call upon the elders for counsel and prayer. These are mature believers anointed by God to help us navigate the storms of life. Once they help us to see areas of our life where our personal sin is causing pain, we have the opportunity to confess that sin and be forgiven. John tells us that, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9 NKJV) If the sickness is purely physical they can lay hands on us to invoke the power of the Holy Spirit to bring healing. What a blessing it is to know that we need never be alone in facing the difficulties of this life!
Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you." (Matthew 9:2 NKJV)
Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion
1. What is the necessity of belonging to part of the body of Christ in a visible organized church?
2. How can the elders come alongside of a believer who is struggling in this life?
3. How did the faith of others lead to healing in the life of the paralytic?
My Father in heaven, my God, thank You for the provision of mature men in the body of Christ who can offer godly counsel and prayer for the sick. Thank you also for your promise to cleanse me from all unrighteousness when I confess my sin. Thank You for your Holy Spirit Who dwells in me and gives me power over physical and spiritual infirmities. Amen