Healing Rain

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnYmhUggIO0]

Michael W. Smith, Healing Rain

Healing rain is coming down
It’s coming nearer to this old town
Rich and poor, weak and strong
It’s bringing mercy, it won’t be long

Healing rain is coming down
It’s coming closer to the lost and found
Tears of joy, and tears of shame
Are washed forever in Jesus’ name

Healing rain, it comes with fire
So let it fall and take us higher
Healing rain, I’m not afraid
To be washed in Heaven’s rain

Lift your heads, let us return
To the mercy seat where time began
And in your eyes, I see the pain
Come soak this dry heart with healing rain

And only You, the Son of man
Can take a leper and let him stand
So lift your hands, they can be held
By someone greater, the great I Am

Healing rain, it comes with fire
So let it fall and take us higher
Healing rain, I’m not afraid
To be washed in Heaven’s rain

To be washed in Heaven’s rain…

Healing rain is falling down
Healing rain is falling down
I’m not afraid
I’m not afraid…

Healing. We all need some healing from God’s merciful touch. Our own hearts need healing. Our families need healing. Our country needs healing. And our churches need to be healed as well. Somehow we have arrived at a place where we have time to demonstrate a fascination with trivia while those within our touch remain in pain. As I read through the gospels I notice that the only one that gives a leper the time of day is the Son of God. The rabbis and the teachers are too busy counting beans to notice the bloody body on the side of the road. The disciples themselves are shooing away children so that that Prince of Peace may perform his miracles without interruption. The Romans go about their state business, without so much as a glance at the lame man at the gate. Good thing one lame man had some friend to drop him through the roof to be placed strategically in front of Jesus. The crowds who were ooohing and ahhhing at his teaching certainly couldn’t be bothered to get out of the way. And we are no different.

Just watch us as we territorially claim our pews at the church. Can you believe we actually talk about “our pews” and who is sitting on them? And we focus on what people are wearing, noting who has something new and who should have given second thought to their current outfit. We note the hair and the smell and the shoes of others. It’s either too cold or too hot in the church building. Someone prayed too long, or they used a phrase I didn’t like. The preacher is too cynical, or too sarcastic, or too boring, or too loud, or too soft spoken, and why doesn’t he stand still? Why do I never hear sermons like we used to hear? What version of the Bible is he using this week? You would think that someone would take that noisy kid out. Don’t they know they are going over time? And by that time the ‘worship service’ is over and we head out the door.

I know that this is an exaggeration. It’s not that bad. Is it? Even if it is only a half-truth, it would be hard to deny that these kinds of things go through our minds when we assemble. And if those kinds of things are crowding our minds, I wonder if Jesus has much of a chance of getting there? And I wonder when it is that we might take a look around and notice the one who is dressed the worst, smells the worst, acts out of place, talks much too loudly, and isn’t much to look at. I mean we look for those people because there in our midst is an opportunity to share the love of God with someone who needs Him so desperately. Some of “those people” may have more faith than we do! They certainly cannot depend upon their money, jobs, families, and savings to get them through tough times. It very well could be that while we share our love with them, they could share their faith with us.

A Spirit-filled family of believers looks beyond these outward circumstances to the beautiful person within. More than that, we seek to reach the broken heart of people who need to know His mercy. We are never more the church than when we offer a kind word, a helping hand, a follow up call, and a genuine smile. And that is the kind of definition of ‘church’ that seldom gets any air time. A friend recently went to a christening at another church. The baby that was being christened was newly born into this family … longtime friends of my friend. It is a family that has had a horrific time recovering from Katrina. As a show of support and love, my friend missed assembling with us to stand by his friend in a time that was important to him. It’s the wrong time to ask about theological differences between friends. It is the right time to be the heart and voice of Jesus.

And that’s troubling my heart about the church these days. Not just Central, practically every church I know. And not just churches of Christ. Theological battles are raging between people reading the same Book. Lines are drawn in the sand and division becomes common. While we eat one another alive, tell me where is the church that does not ignore the poor people all around their building? Where is the church that is not operating to keep wealthy, socially-connected, employed-with-benefits kind of people happy and satisfied? Show me the church where decisions are made based upon the incredible needs of the community, reaching out in every effort to bless those who have no one to care. It is my theory that a vast majority of people in this country who call themselves “Christians” mean by that term that they are nice people who assemble most Sunday mornings at the same church. If this is so, even those who are theologically correct still do not qualify for the title they bear.

I know this is not always the way it is. There are many exceptional people who break the mold.

What I hear reported, though,┬áis that in most congregations there are a very few people who are carrying the load of mercy. Our communities need the healing rain of God’s mercy and grace. But pinpointing problems is a lot easier than solving them. What do we do about it? More in the coming days.