Sunday, 25 October 2015

Prince's pronouncement of perfect health.

Pastor Prince has done it again, that is, brevity at the expense of clarity. Or over-simplicity at the expense of everyday reality. Here is his faith-mollycoddling social media sermonette.
"Pronounce Yourself Clean!
Matthew 8:3: "Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed...
Since the Bible is clear about God's willingness to heal, why do we still have problems with our health?
I believe that the answer is found in what Jesus told the leper to do next. He told him to go and show himself to the priest...And (the leper) was to hear the priest pronounce the word "clean" over him. (Leviticus 14:7)...
"But Pastor Prince, where can I find such priests?"
Who are the priests today? You and I. In fact, we have more authority to pronounce good things than the Levitical priests of the Old Testament. They were just priests. But we are king-priests by the blood of Jesus!
Beloved, God has cleansed you, so pronounce yourself clean! Right now, put your hand on your heart and pronounce good things over yourself. Say, "I pronounce myself clean, righteous, healed, whole and abundantly supplied by the blood of Jesus!" By your word as a king-priest, every assault against you shall be settled." The end.
Lesson? Oh dear God, what have I been missing all these decades being a believer? If all it takes is a sincere pronouncement by faith as king-priest, and all the assaults on my health shall be settled, just like that, what have I been missing Lord? Is the next pronouncement this, "You shall wait (and wait and wait) upon the Lord?"
At present, I can list at least three loved ones, and the most earnest believers I have come across, who are seriously ill, have gone under the knife, have been fighting valiantly in hope and perseverance in the faith, and have been prayed and pronounced over and over again (for the longest time) by themselves and others as "king-priests" would have it, yet the only so called healing they've received is the healing that comes with verbal consolation, encouragement and comfort. Not that they are not important, but I am sure no one would deny that they're not directly relevant right? Underscore "directly".
With all due respect to pastor Prince, does he really expect his pronouncement to be  unconditionally answered, without exceptions? Is that his understanding of this fallen world, the reality out there? Is it then fair (or appropriate) to throw it out onto social media indiscriminately without any clarification or qualification just so that the believing listeners would take that earnest bite and realize it was just not meant to be as per the pronouncement? Reality check or cherry-topping faith? Is this something like throwing a gospel grenade into the evangelism pond just to make a radical splash without considering its aftermath? 

(If the rejoinder here is to take it easy (lah), it's just an online encouragement (on the go). Then, the following questions come unbidden: Is it necessary? Does one truly understand his audience? Does one care? Is one being disingenuous (insincere)? What is one's true intention? Does it send the wrong message? Will it risk misinterpretation (for those who are in desperate need for hope)? Does it give false hope then? Is this God's "one-size-fits-all" will to and for everybody and everyone, regardless? (I can actually go on and on)
Honestly, does this even come close to the biting reality we are witnessing in our own lives, the immediate circumstances around us, and the global condition in this world? If all it takes is a pronouncement, then I guess all forms and methods of institutionalized healing would be made completely redundant, superfluous. Doctors can start folding their medical degrees into paper planes for high-rise aerial flight. And Christian pharmaceutical companies can just wind up their businesses and start pronouncing over their customers (and possibly charge them for it).
Here I am compelled to ask this: Is Pastor Prince for real? Does he really believe in the universality of his pronouncement? Is he trying to make a biblical splash while avoiding the reality bash? Is one the rosiest when he is furthest from the problem?
Of course, it is clear that Pastor Prince is not against modern doctors and medicine. No right-minded preacher today would rile against the established medical profession and their dedication. But what is not clear from the above message is whether his king-priest’s pronouncement takes precedence over modern doctors and medicine, or it complements (that is, runs parallel with) it. If it were the former (takes precedence), then it is not only reductive and simplistic but misleading. If it were the latter (complementary), then it confuses causes and effects, and it muddles correlation with causation, mistakes natural healing for miracles (which by the Catholic standard, ought to be "immediate", "complete" and "permanent" following prayer - examples? Jesus' ministry is a good start).  It is akin to shooting the arrow first and then drawing the bull’s eye around it later. In other words, the credit of any hit goes to the pronouncement and the blame for misses conveniently goes to the other human failings, including modern medical intervention.
You see, even if pastor Prince had the best of intention in posting that short message above, he should nevertheless have the sensitivity (if not sensibility) to appreciate the vulnerability of his listeners, the proper context and specific application concerning "king-priest" (assuming it was biblical), and the obvious oversimplification of its message. And with such sensitivity (or sensibility) naturally comes mature restraint and deeper consideration.
No doubt I believe that God is a mountain-moving God. But at times, it is not inconceivable that God doesn't want to cast the mountain into the sea (or to cast every mountain we face into the sea just because we ask - or pronounce over it). On the contrary, He plans for us to scale the mountain with Him together because what awaits us at the top after all the trust, faith and travailing is a perspective that is so transforming it would make every effort, tears and sweat worth its weigh in gold. Then and only then, will all pronouncements (of strength in times of weakness) be transformed into a resounding declaration of true, enduring and life-affirming victory! 
In the end, I guess without hope, we will all languish, before perishing. The reality is that faith, love and hope have proven time and time again to be the best survival and thriving posture we can take as against dread, disillusionment and discouragement.
While I stay positive and hope for the best in all circumstances, I am not going to take in everything said or preached over the pulpit (or online) hook, line and sinker. I am anchored on the Rock of Ages who has overcome and has assured me I will overcome too. He is my trampled Rose of Sharon who releases the fragrance of sacrificial love and resilient hope, and not the bed of roses I laze upon seeking only to be pacified, pleased and pampered. 

I know such message will never win the ears of the crowd, but I hope it will bypass that and minister deeply in their hearts, which is infinitely more enduring and meaningful. God knows the last thing I want to do is to swallow the words of man wholesale just because I really want it to be true. Because it's never about me, but it's about the voice of my Shepherd, the unmistakable Lover of my soul. Cheerz.

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