Bill Welsh and his family returned recently from church planting in Australia to serve at Calvary Chapel of Albuquerque. He writes this article for us.
When I was about six years old, I adopted a very strange belief. No, it wasn't in Santa or the Easter Bunny. This one had to do with starting a stubborn automobile. I was convinced that all you needed to do was sit in the back seat and roll the window up and down a couple of times.
That doctrine was formulated in the most pragmatic of ways. One day, as my Dad was dialoguing with our old Rambler over its resistance to start up, I rolled down the back window. A blast of cold air blew through and I quickly rolled it back up again, butjust as soon as the window was up...vroom, the Rambler roared.
I was sure I had discovered the secret that all motorists would love me for. Even though my Dad was never converted to this new truth, I kept cranking those windows for years. Sometimes it worked; sometimes it didn't (probably due to my Dad's lack of faith), but I kept it up for years. I was a believer until I began to gain a little information and experience under the hood and behind the wheel. Today, I wish it was that simple.
There are some other doctrines or practices I've begun to re-examine now, too. One of them has to do with the way in which I minister to people who are in serious need. I've picked up a few practices over the years and I wonder if some are really modeled in the life and ministry of Jesus.
For years I held the belief that "binding" focused exclusively on tying up the Devil or any other rank of demonic creatures, and "loosing" focused on releasing a demon-possessed or oppressed person. For two decades, I would say to (or shout to) the Devil "I bind you in Jesus Name" or "I command you to loose this person." Then I would pray to the Father to heal, save, deliver, release, etc. Sometimes it worked; sometimes it didn't (probably due to the lack of faith of my subject).
Only recently did I begin to note a startling lack of supportive Scripture to back up that kind of ministry as an interpretation of what Jesus was saying in Matthew 16:19 and 18: 18. I know there are times to confront the demonic world. We are told to resist the Devil and also to cast out demons, but I couldn't find the early church or Jesus employing my "binding and loosing" phrases as such.
Then I came upon Luke 4: 18-19 again and began to notice the verbs Jesus used to itemize hisjob description. He said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor...to bind up the brokenhearted...to proclaim liberty to the captives...recovery of sight to the blind...set at liberty those who are oppressed.. .proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
I compared my former activities with what Jesus said about binding and loosing as well as what he said in John 20:21: "As the Father has sent me, I also send you." Jesus wants us to do what he did...proclaim, bind up, set at liberty, open prison doors. All of these actions fall into either the category of binding or loosing.
Especially with the word "binding" I began to see things a bit differently. The binding didn't refer to my dealing with Satan; it had to do with binding up that which was broken...the broken heart. When someone breaks a bone, we bind that limb. An injury is bound in order to protect while healing.
Jesus bound up the broken heart, not the love sick reeling from a collapsed romance, but those whose hearts were not working in the way God intended--broken from abuse and sin. I believe the binding of the broken heart includes the renewing of the mind and the resettling of the emotions. Binding also has to do with healing, making whole. Recovery of sight, hearing, strength. Loosing is obvious in the context of Luke 4--liberty to captives, liberty to the oppressed.
But what about the preaching and proclaiming? How does that fit into a "binding or loosing" category? Remember what Jesus said: "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." That is liberty...loosing! The truth looses the captives from darkness into God's marvelous light.
As I began to look again at Jesus' ministry recorded in the Gospels and the Early Church in the Book of Acts, it dawned on me that their ministry was so simple and free from antics and rituals, slogans and cliches (They didn't even end each prayer with "in Jesus' Name.").
The Early Church didn't create a sideshow environment. They proclaimed truth, prayed for the sick, confronted demons and loved one another. In fact, the only instance in the Book of Acts where someone leaned on a slogan to deal with demons ended up in major embarrassment for the seven sons of Sceva (Acts 19). Praying "in Jesus' Name" describes a relationship, not a ritual.
So, Jesus said, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." He also said, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven." What is he saying? We are to 80 out with a confidence based not in our cliches but based in our relationship to Jesus and his promise that he will partner with us as we proclaim the truth and bind up the broken. He will work with us (Mark 16:20). We are never alone as we serve in his name.
The result of all this for me is that I find myself relying less on my slogans and more on my Saviour these days. I guess I've redirected my energy these days from cranking the window up and down to keeping the car tuned up by keeping my relationship with Jesus current and fresh.
There will always be broken hearts, blind eyes and prisoners waiting for the truth that sets them free. I have determined to make myself available to be a channel through which God can touch them.