Sunday Night Live Sermons
MAKING PEOPLE WHOLE
Megatrends That Have Guided Us
Last Thursday I addressed the annual meeting of our Lottie Stewart Hospital. There we care for people severely broken in body and mind. There are 82 high dependency beds for extremely fail aged persons needing long term care, 16 psycho-geriatric beds for people who need long term care for severe mental illness, 23 people who have suffered permanent spinal injuries requiring long term supportive care, 17 who suffer from the incurable consequences of Huntington’s disease, and 10 beds for people suffering from dementia who have no one else to care for them. All of these are broken in body, mind and usually spirit as well.
Our Wesley Hospital Ashfield and Wandene Hospital Kogarah and our other units at Carlingford and Taree support hundreds of people suffering from the consequence of one form or other of mental illness. Our latest statistics tell us that in 2001, 9.6% of the population (1.8 million people) reported having a long-term mental or behavioural problem. Females are more likely than males to report a long-term mental or behavioural problems. Mental or behavioural problems are most prevalent among those who were separated or divorced. Married persons reported rates of mental or behavioural problems half that of peopler living on their own. Those people who lived in the most socioeconomically disadvantaged areas experienced a higher prevalence of mental or behavioural problems (12.3%) compared with people who lived in the least socioeconomically disadvantaged areas (8.1%). Each person reports being disintegrated, not themselves.
The 1997 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing of 13,600 Adults show that one in five (18%) had a mental disorder during the 12 months prior to the survey. The prevalence of mental disorder generally decreases with age. Young adults 18–24 years had the highest prevalence of mental disorder (27%) declining steadily to 6.1% of those aged 65 years and older. However from age 35 years women were more likely to have a mental disorder than men. Anxiety disorders include conditions involving feelings of tension, distress, nervousness, panic disorder, agoraphobia, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Years ago, J.B.Phillips wrote Making Men Whole. It helped me understand of the purpose of my ministry. He wrote: “Many Christians suffer today, more perhaps than in any preceding age, from a sense that the world is out of control. The impact of world tensions and problems is often so great that Christians, frequently become over-anxious. We all need to be reminded that God is by no means baffled or bewildered. The writers of the New Testament never regarded the Christian religion as an “ethic”, still less a performance. To them it was an invasion of their own lives by the living Spirit of God; their response in repentance and faith provided the means by which the divine could penetrate the merely human. They lived lives of super-human quality because they believed quite simply that Christ Himself was alive within them.” Jesus Christ became the integrative centre of their being.
In Christ alone is there is healing over brokenness for the individual, for Churches, and for the scattered human family. The problem is that people are disintegrating. The solution is that Christ can make them whole. Among the most helpful psychologists I have studied is Dr Paul Tournier of Switzerland. One of our Wesley Hospital psychiatrists studied under him in Switzerland. His book The Whole Person In A Broken World, re-inforces the Good News that Jesus Christ makes people whole. Through Wesley Mission’s ministry in Lottie Stewart Hospital, Wesley Hospital, and Wandene Hospital, and all of our Health and Counselling Services we seek to make broken people whole. I have used scripture in my preaching over TV and radio every week, to help people find wholeness in a broken world. We seek to make people whole: physically, socially, emotionally, psychiatrically, spiritually, sexually.
Next Saturday in Wesley Centre, the Reforming Alliance in the Uniting Church is conducting a seminar for people suffering from sexual and relational brokenness. In every news service we hear of despair and death. Humans are warriors in a world when we should be at peace. We are slaves when we should be free. We are fools when we should be wise. We are destroyers when we should be builders. We are vagabonds when we should be at home. Instead of being at ease with life, many are dis-eased. Many suffer greatly from alienation and stress. All of this changes if we have a right relationship with God. Instead of alienation we are reconciled. Instead of brokenness we are at peace with God, ourselves and our world. We are whole.
Professor Charles Birch, the environmentalist, said: “Mankind is alienated, estranged, disintegrated and diseased.” The Apostle Paul agrees. In his letter to Christians living in Ephesus he talks about how people live in broken relationships with themselves, their neighbours, the environment and God. But God offers us wholeness in all of our relationships. Eph 2:11–12 “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” — remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” Paul reminds his readers of the separateness and brokenness of their relationships with others.
Jews believe there are two groups of people: Jews and Gentiles; the circumcised and the uncircumcised. They used that term in a derogatory fashion. Non-Jews were “foreigners”. In Jerusalem, the Temple was surrounded by a wall that divided Jews from non-Jews. Anybody who was not Jewish, who went inside the wall, could be put to death on the spot. Archaeologists in 1871 came upon a sign that that warned non-Jews against entering. I have seen the sign that was there in the days of Jesus. It was written in Latin, Hebrew and Greek. “No foreigner may enter this barrier and enclosure around the Temple. Anybody caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death.” Today only part of the base of the Temple still stands.
The Wailing Wall still has a large fenced off area. Jewish men only may go to this area. There are armed guards around that wall. No female may enter. That is the wall of separation today. Around the world there are many walls of separation: of class, of economic condition, of social background, education — the world is divided by walls of separation. In a broken world those who are not Christian are foreigners, not belonging to God’s chosen people, having no part in the covenants, unable to receive the promises of God, living in a world without hope. So many people without God: hopeless, alienated, rejected, and separated from the rest of society, broken. That is the brokenness of being outside Christ.
v13–18 “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” “But now, in Christ Jesus…” Notice the difference when you are in Christ Jesus?
Once you were apart from Christ, but now you are in union with Him. No longer are you foreigners, living without hope and without God. Instead, you are a part of God’s chosen people. In Christ you are brought near to become part of the family of God. v14 “For Christ Himself has brought us peace.” In Israel today when you meet an Israeli you say “Shalom”. “Good morning. Peace to you” It is the greeting of every Hebrew. In the Old Testament to have peace meant that you lived your life as a unity. “Shalom” meant wholeness, completeness, salvation. In the New Testament to be at peace means to be one with God, with yourself, one with your neighbour and one with the world around you. To be at peace with God means you have been made whole in a broken world.
“His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace.” With His own body He broke down those walls. He made us a new people, not dependent upon outward signs, laws, regulations and rules. He created from two races one race, a new people — those who are in Christ. It is a new identity. It is a church. For everyone who belongs to the church, regardless of his or her colour, is now a brother or sister; regardless of race he or she now belongs; regardless of economic or social states, he or she now belongs to the family of God. For by His death upon the cross God has destroyed the enmity, the divisions, the brokenness. V16 “in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” The cross is the means of bringing us back together into wholeness.
This month’s Biblical Archaeological Review lead article is entitled, “WHERE JESUS CURED THE BLIND MAN.” In June 2004, workmen repairing a broken sewer in Jerusalem, uncovered rock steps that two passing archaeologists insisted be properly excavated. Under ten feet of mud, they found the huge Pool of Siloam, 225 feet long and almost as wide, surrounded by three series of steps where people prepared for bathing. It is by the end of Hezekiah’s tunnel where in about 450AD a new pool and a Byzantine Church was built to mark where Jesus healed the man born blind recorded in John 9. Now the actual Pool of Siloam has been excavated. Jesus wanted that man, blind from birth to discover, not just his sight but wholeness in body, mind and spirit. The Pool was used in the process of healing, and from the text we read that in body, the man had his sight restored, that under questioning, the Priests saw he was sound of mind, and in his recognition of Jesus as the light of the world, we see he had spiritual wholeness.
God is concerned about the healing of the body, the cleansing of the soul, and the perfecting of the spirit to save the whole person from sin and dysfunction, the brokenness of the world. God’s “Shalom” means you can be physically well, emotionally sound, and spiritually whole in a broken world. It is Jesus who enables this to happen through His death on the Cross. This is one of the great mega-trends that have distinguished our nearly 200 years of service to the people of Sydney. For the world will remain broken, until people find that through faith in Christ they can be made whole. Our purpose is to help make people whole in a broken world.
Rev. Dr. The Hon. Gordon Moyes A.C., M.L.C.
- Dr Paul Tournier: “The Whole Person In A Broken World”; Collins 1965
- J.B.Phillips, Bible translator: “Making Men Whole” Fontana 1952
- Mental Health and Wellbeing: Profile of Adults, A.B.S., Australia 1998
- Biblical Archaeological Review” Oct 2005 Vol 31:No5. p16.