19 August 2019
Can Jesus Heal Cancer
The signboard reads "Jesus heals Cancer" outside a church in Napier. The NZ Herald reports that a mother, whose small child is suffering from a [treatable] cancer, was told about it by her father who saw it posted on Twitter. She emailed the church with a complaint. There is actually no indication that she has seen the sign herself.
Nine complaints poured about the billboard, into the Advertising Standards Authority, who are trying to determine if claims made by a church billboard fall under its authority. The church later added to its bill board the tally  of the people they claim to have been healed. They did say that they are not advocating going off medication or anything which may put the person at risk.
It is fascinating that the matter seems to have stirred up the most unlikely responses from surprising areas. Everyone has their opinion.
The cynical say the church has put this up to get more people there and trade on the hope which vulnerable people grasp at when all else has failed. The church replies that the healings has happened and gives their tally to "prove" it.
Let's give thanks for those who are healed or even in remission, for all healing is from God, no matter who you are.
The people who have complained are sensitive to their own struggle with cancer and other illnesses. Lying underneath their complaints is the question which goes with a claim like this, "then why hasn't my cancer been cured?" .And the subsequent "Aren't my prayers good enough? Or my faith enough?"
I am disappointed that that church has not recognised these are valid questions and used the subsequent publicity as an opportunity to make some good replies which reach out to those who are suffering. After all, if becoming a Christian or attending a Christian church means that we are cured of all our illnesses, then the whole world would be Christian. The church concerned is being naÔve about what their sign conveys even if the answer to the question "can God heal cancer?" is yes.
But why all the fuss anyway? Sensible people would assume we make our own judgements and act accordingly. If this was the immigrant fortune tellers who set up at Hunter's corner a while ago and threatened people with curses or on receiving large sums of money [$1000.00 in one case] gave blessings, it would be ignored.
There are matters raised by this which are important. One is about how we can display our beliefs as a church, are we subject to the ADA, a commercially oriented agency?
People have been stimulated to talk about faith and healing openly and that gives us a chance to engage with others about our own faith and experience.
Jesus does heal, in many ways, its what happens in a community. The love of God in action brings healing, reconciliation and forgiveness and many of the people of this congregation can attest to knowing God's healing love in their lives.
At this time of Lent, as we approach Good Friday and Easter, we also know that the followers of Jesus are not spared pain, loss and death. After all the path that Jesus took was not a way of instant results, his humanity did not move into a superhero escape route from the cross, but went to the bitter end. Then, and only then, is the hope of Easter found. Life is not extinguished but raised to new life and we can live with real and lasting hope. There is more that we can ever know and more than can be placed on that rather inadequate billboard. Thanks be to God.
May God bring you healing, and joy as we travel toward Easter Day
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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