Down the hill from Wigglesworth’s home was the beautiful Manningham Park, a public park with lovely flower gardens. I cannot pass by that place today without remembering Wigglesworth and the people he blessed there. When he was home, it was usual for him to go to the park and sit for a while. Often someone else would sit down on the same bench. Without speaking, Wigglesworth imparted something to whoever was sitting there. If the person was unsaved, as was often the case, Wigglesworth would pray silently for him to come under conviction and get saved. Whatever the need might be, Wigglesworth could perceive it. He had no need to question any one; people were drawn to him by the Spirit. Before long, almost without realizing it, a person would be pouring out his heart to Smith. Everyone went away blessed. Wigglesworth always said, “If you don’t minister life, you will minister death and leave folks worse off than when you found them.”
German Theologian Jürgen Moltmann points out that miracles are not an interruption of the natural order, but the restoration of the natural order. We are so used to a fallen world that sickness, disease, pain and death seem natural. In fact, they are the interruption.
When Jesus expels demons and heals the sick, he is driving out of creation the powers of destruction and is healing and restoring created beings who are hurt and sick. The lordship of God to which the healings witness, restores creation to health. Jesus healings are not supernatural miracles in a natural world. they are the only truly “natural” thing in a world that is unnatural, demonised and wounded.
We may have perfectly designed scandi coffe shops and public spaces, but the private space of people’s hearts may be crumbling with mental helath issues, breakdown or lack of relationships and geographical disconnection. there is a longing for intimacy – but a fear of real intimacy – ghosting on dating apps and phobias concerning commitment. All of this is spiritual and to do with the alienation of humankind from God. All can be healed if we understand prayer!
The Holy Spirit is the Christian’s batteries, coach, guide, prompt and power all rolled into one. What Jesus said to his disciples in Acts 1:3 before he left was basically like the old credit card slogan “Don’t leave home without it”. With the Spirit we have purchasing power to acquire territory for the kingdom of heaven.
Sometimes church history and modern day experience makes it look like the red flag has been waved, suspending the race and forcing everyone to cruise slowly and carefully around the track without overtaking, but Jesus has done no such thing. The baptism of fire that John the Baptist talked about was not just for those first century Christians at the front of the queue. The source of fire that came down on them has not been extinguished but has burnt a glorious trail through history, right up to the present day. The race is very much still on!
Only 50% of clergy from declining churches agreed it was “very important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians”, compared to 100% of clergy from growing churches.
71% of clergy from growing churches read the Bible daily compared with 19% from declining churches.
46% of people attending growing churches read the Bible once a week compared with 26% from declining churches.
93% of clergy and 83% of worshippers from growing churches agreed with the statement “Jesus rose from the dead with a real flesh-and-blood body leaving behind an empty tomb”. This compared with 67% of worshippers and 56% of clergy from declining churches.
100% of clergy and 90% of worshippers agreed that “God performs miracles in answer to prayers”, compared with 80% of worshippers and 44% of clergy from declining churches.
The kingdom has come and the kingdom is coming. It is here and it has not yet arrived. We are living paradoxes. I cannot put it any better than Alexander Ventner does in his book, Doing Healing:P
The tension and mystery of the kingdom is critical to a proper praxis and theology of healing. We cannot dictate or control healing yet we cannot accept or surrender to sickness. We pray with confident authority and expectation of healing for everyone, yet we are humble and honest, trusting God with the results as only God can heal. We do both at the same time. We instinctively try to resolve the tension by tending to “either/or” because “and/both” is messy. Too much kingdom now leads to arrogance and presumption, demanding healing as if on tap. Too much “kingdom then” leads to pessimism and fatalism, leaving healing to if it is God’s will/ Balance leads to neutralising of the radical edges, loss of risk taking, a passive middle road and theologically correct approach to healing. We too easily explain lack of healing by kingdom tension when we ought to push through in faith. Embracing both the “already” and “not yet” of the kingdom makes us living paradoxes. It is learning to live and minister in the overlapping of two ages: the power of the kingdom and the resistance of this age. It leads to persevering faith, optimistic realism, dependence on God, discerning the moment, honouring people’s dignity, respecting the unknown, and leaving the results with God