“‘If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” Mark 5:28-29
In the Old Covenant, the immediate presence of a holy God was something to be feared by sinful humanity. God warned people to not get too close and those who were called to draw near had to be very careful or they could die.
Yet in Christ, the presence of God became a healing presence. So much so that this woman disregards the ceremonial law which demanded she stay separate from all around her. (Leviticus 15:25-31) Anyone she touched became unclean according to God’s law, yet she instinctively knew that if she touched Jesus she would be healed instead of Him becoming unclean.
In the Savior, the Holy Spirit is a healing presence. In 1997 I did a workshop for our youth camp in Minnesota on the topic of the Holy Spirit. When I was finished speaking, I asked any who wanted a fresh touch of the Spirit to stand. Although I went around and touched the head of each student while praying for them, I wasn’t aware of anything special happening.
Three days later, we were in our final evening service and were giving testimonies of what God had done. A ninth grade student from Duluth pulled me into a private room off the sanctuary to tell me what happened to him. He said he was too shy to speak in front of everyone but thought someone should know.
A few years earlier he had fallen down some stairs and hurt his back, but because his mom was so poor he never asked to have a doctor look at it. He had just suffered in silence and learned to live with the pain. “I was the first person you prayed for on Monday,” he told me, “and when you touched my head something went through me that took away all my pain. I’ve tested it for three days and the pain hasn’t returned. God healed me.”
He was now crying, and so was I. He hadn’t asked for healing and I hadn’t prayed for healing. Jesus just wanted to heal him, and in a way that he would know for the rest of his life that God is real.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1
At one convention I went to the theme was, “Altared,” with a verse from Leviticus 6:12 on never letting the fire go out on the altar. Each speaker brought up the theme and gave reflections on what it looked like to have the fire of God’s presence burning in the altar of our hearts.
One speaker asked us to consider what comes into our minds when we hear the word “worship.” Then he suggested some possible answers: a too short or too long time of singing before a sermon, hymns or choruses, singing that is too fast or too slow, a key too high or low to sing in, or maybe even the graphics that are now behind the words of songs because of modern technology.
Then he talked about the Bible’s version of worship which he said was more PG 13. Worship in the Bible always involved something dying. From Abel’s sacrifice to animals required for sacrifice in the tabernacle and the temple; Jews knew that there must be a death to satisfy the holiness of God who said the wages of sin was death. After the sacrifice God required was given, God Himself would answer by fire. The priests didn’t need matches.
Elijah said the God who answers by fire, He is God. When the Holy Spirit came after the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus, there was a tongue of fire that rested on each head. Truly our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29) and wants to baptize us in His purifying fire so we can easily live for Him.
So here’s the problem. The only offering that is answered by fire is death. If we try to give God a partial offering instead of making ourselves living sacrifices, we won’t have His fire in our hearts. We will end up with a powerless version of Christianity that looks and acts just like the world. It sounds kind of like the American church today, doesn’t it?
In view of His mercy, let’s give Him what He died for by offering ourselves as living sacrifices for His glory and our good.