I once saw a cartoon of a man sitting alone in a large meeting hall. He was attending a conference for families without dysfunction. This cartoon struck me funny because every family has its dysfunction, even if we are unwilling to admit it! And if dysfunction exists in our families, it certainly exists in our churches. But we sure are good at covering up our dysfunctions, aren't we?

Jesus stands against the art of the cover-up. The truth speaks for itself and is more powerful than a good sell or a carefully woven story. It is not in our nature to be transparent. Our original parents certainly showed this in the story of the garden. We've been taught to cover our issues up, white-wash them, speak a multitude of positive words, and then try to appear as we should appear. 

In one of Paul's letters to the Corinthians, he used the human body as an analogy of the church. Our bodies function well at times, and at times they ache, they slow and they fail. As I grow older, the yard-work injuries I incur seem to last longer than they did in my youth. These do pass, but there are some wounds, some issues that remain to this day.  

In Matthew's gospel account, there is a story of a man with a withered hand. Everyone knew his hand was withered, but it was not proclaimed. I'm sure it was kept on the down low. Maybe he greeted others with the hand that was well, or carried items with his strong hand. We change our behavior, don't we, to accommodate our weakness? But Jesus never accommodates our weakness, he deals with it. And in the case of the man with the withered hand Jesus didn't quietly address the issue, no, he told the man in front of everyone, "Stretch your hand out." In effect, present it to God, let everyone see it! God was about to be glorified through a man's weakness.

I don't see this healing happening if the man had withdrawn and hidden his hand. I don't see your healing coming if you keep it hidden away in the comfort and illusionary safety of darkness. I don't see strength and power returning to the weakened church until we stretch out our hurting parts, confess our sins, and allow the God of mercy to do His work in us. 

We need to "stretch it out".

For the miracle is in the healing, in the transparency, not in the art of painting a good picture. This is how it is with us, physical or emotional healing; sin issues and addictions; corruption and compromise. Stretch them out! Jesus wants to heal! The part of the body that is lame is not to be looked down upon, but cared for. All the parts of the body are important and have value, whether withered and dysfunctional or not. The body is not made strong by cover up and good marketing. Explaining away and making excuses never grows anyone. Honestly and transparency alone will bring healing.

Scary? Yes indeed. But a changing of the guards is coming, and those who are part of this new move of God are leaving their pride and self-sufficiency in the dust where it belongs and are marching to the orders of their Captain. Lay it down, stretch it out, and watch God do the miraculous.


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