Summary: The cross heals our spiritual illnesses but it also shows that God can bring physical healing. So it's right to pray that God would heal.
Sermon by Rev George Hemmings
Part of a series based on The Cross of Christ by Dr Leon Morris
At the start of this year, Sarah forced me to do something I've never done before. It was a completely new experience, one that I didn't feel entirely comfortable with, and still struggle to believe has happened. Sarah made me join a gym. Before this year, I'd never even stepped foot in one, now I'm a paid up member of our local sweat club. Although I have to confess I'm a sporadic attender! I only joined reluctantly, having accepted that I needed to drop a few kilos and get a bit fitter to keep up with the kids at Tom’s Crew. But on that first visit, the manager was in full sales mode, promoting all the benefits of joining the gym. The sales pitch made the gym sound like the great preventive and cure for all manner of ailments. The gym not only helps strengthen the muscles and lungs, improves the cardiovascular system, boosts one's immune system. It helped me to see that all those people, pounding out a furious rhythm on the treadmills are really just running away from sicknesses, trying to outrun death.
Of course it's not just the poor unfortunate souls in the gym that are in this race. Our world strives, with all it's might to avoid sickness. There's almost nothing in this world that we try to avoid more. We might welcome the odd ‘sick’ day here. We kind of look forward to being that little bit sick. Sick enough to miss school or work, but not so sick that life’s miserable. But we don’t want anything more than that. After all, being really sick is no fun at all, it robs us of the joy of life. But it's more than that. We don't even like to think about being sick and not just because of the discomfort. Being sick robs us of our freedom, our control. And there are few things that we cherish more than our freedom.
This is my Nan, my Dad's mother. This is the earliest photo I could find of my Nan. But I don’t really remember her like this. Every year when we would drive down to Sydney to visit, she was a little worse off. I remember her zooming around in her electric scooter. And then one year she wasn’t zooming in quite the same way, as she was driving one handed. And then finally she couldn’t manage that any more and was confined to bed. Nan had multiple-sclerosis, MS. Her body was slowly attacking itself and each year she lost a bit more of her freedom. Her condition was a vivid illustration of how sickness can rob us of our freedom, physically, socially, mentally, emotionally. We might never succumb to something as terrible as MS, but every time we’re sick we suffer a loss of freedom. And so we fear sickness and we strive to avoid it.
And the ultimate loss of freedom comes from death. So it’s no surprise that the one thing we try to avoid more than sickness, is death. There's no quicker way to kill a conversation than to bring up the topic of death and dying. We don't like talking about it, let alone thinking about it, or planning for it. If this wasn't the case wouldn't we all have filled out those little blue cards that Chris has? Sarah and I found it took us almost two years to get our wills sorted out after we were married. Even after the boys were born, when it became even more important that we provide for them, it took several months to get the paperwork filled out. Every time we sat down to go through it, we'd find some excuse to do something else. With something so important why did it take us so long? Because, just like everyone else we didn't want to think about our own deaths! It's the least fun thing we could think to do, the one thing we want to avoid more than anything else.
The terrible thing is, when we are faced with the problem of sickness and death, our world has no real solution. Our modern world doesn't have any satisfying answers to why disease and death exist in the first place. For Darwin, and his successor Dawkins, they're just part of our natural world. There’s no explaining them, let alone escaping them. Sicknesses is normal, it's the way the world weeds out the weak. Death is just a reality that we should just accept and try to live with. And so for most of our world the only hope for a lasting cure lies in science and medicine. That given enough time someone will discover a cure for everything. If not today, then tomorrow there will be the magic pill to wipe out cancer, the common cold and the flu. And of course if tomorrow is too far away, then there's always the option of cryogenics. Why die when you can just have yourself frozen until there's a cure for whatever you have? It's the ultimate attempt to avoid death, to escape it.