What is the Simple Cure to Spiritual Sickness?
(Adapted from deceased UMC African American pastor, Dr. Alonzo Harley)
…having the same spirit of faith…we also believe and therefore speak. 2 Corinthians 4:13
Dr. Harley shared these words in one of his sermons:
The day in which we live is not one of triumphant faith. If faith is “that which affirms the worth of an end or an object,” as the great jurist Oliver Wendell Holms defined it, or is “that which makes us hopeful and sure, and makes the things we love to think about seem true, “ as Dwight Bradley once declared, then our generation cannot be described as breathing a spirit of faith.
Social media, the flood of podcasts, our private conversations with one another, even our prayers if we could hear them played back to us, are not voiced in the language of hope and certainty. One the contrary, they utter notes of angst, doubt, insecurity, frustration, distress and even hopelessness.
The people of Corinth were folks like us. The climate, both moral and spiritual, in Corinth was about the same as we experience today. High distrust of groups and parties of both political and moral suasion. They, like us, did not live or breath by a spirit of faith. The challenge of life as we have offered to the world is not how much we offer solutions, but how well we embrace the experience of faith. Paul was as person of faith who had not secondhand experiences of God’s face manifest in the person of Jesus Christ. Tears, pains, sorrow, gains, healing, and joy were all a part of the faith journey that embodied his spirit of faith.
How do we get our spirit of faith? We are perplexed, pressured on every side, straitened, pursued, smitten down almost to despair. Yet Paul says to us as he said to the people of Corinth: any poise, and confidence, that I have stems first from an awareness of the exceeding greatness of the power of God. God is great!
Dr. Harley ends his sermon with these words: (so appropriate for us in 2020)
The world and its sickness at bottom is spiritual sickness. And the cure is not ours to supply for the strength to cure ourselves is not in us. Paul knew that it could be found only through Jesus Christ. Paul believed that He who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead can raise us also. He knew it, believed it and spoke it in his living.
O Love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thing ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
Dr. Vincent Harris is the South District Superintendent in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (Houston, Texas area).
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