A couple of years ago I had the privilege of going to Jordan and Israel for a short period. I must admit that I haven’t really done a lot of travelling but there was something that was distinctly wonderful about the city of Jerusalem. The appeal it held wasn’t so much that it was the land of the Bible but rather its diversity. Modern day Jerusalem is a real mixing pot. Faiths co-exist, ethnic groups try to be peaceful and above all there is the extremes of architecture. There exists both the Old City with its buildings thousands of year’s old, and just outside its wall are the modern buildings of the New City. It was these extreme opposites that struck me most of all because it so vividly reminds me of the Gospel of Jesus.
The Gospel of Christ is a juxtaposed gospel. While we are unholy, we are loved by a Holy God. While we are unrighteous, we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. While we have been made a new creation, we live within old creation. Paul realises the extreme opposites of the gospel life. In Romans 7:14-25 he shares of the struggle that we all face as followers of Jesus. Speaking in the first person he tells of the inner battle between our natural inclination toward sinfulness even though we have been made new in Christ. Such is the tension that exists in the period between the inaugurated Kingdom (began in the coming of Jesus) and its consummation (brought in with Jesus’ return).
This tension was brought home to me in a recent conversation about healing. More specifically about why God heals some and not others even when there are hundreds of people praying. I don’t know why God heals some and not others (I wish I did), but I do know the certainty of ultimate healing. Paul again is helpful. In the battle of sinfulness he directs us to Jesus. I believe that the question of why some aren’t healed needs to lead us to Jesus. In him we are assured of a certain hope – he will return and make everything whole. We can look forward to the day when there will neither sickness, pain nor death, tears, sorrow nor mourning. We can look forward to a time we will fully realise that Jesus bore all of our sicknesses and infirmities.
We do not experience this now. We live in a time where we struggle with our own sinfulness. We live in a time where the healed are still sick. We live in a time when the living are dead. We live in a time where Christians have been made new but in an old world. In short we live in a time of the juxtaposition of the Gospel. What are we to do? I think all we can do is look to Christ. We can pray. We can weep and mourn and cry out our questions to him. We may never know the answer to life’s difficult questions, but we can continue to look to the one who does. Finally we can be reminded of the hope we have in Jesus – he will return and restore all things to himself.