Isaiah 61 - part #4

His Thoughts:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. To proclaim the year of the Lords favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” – Isaiah 61:1-3

My Thoughts:
Replacement. This is a crucial aspect of the gospel. You can't be a trouble-shooter alone. You can't just tell people what's can't even get away with just telling people what's right. You have to provide a replacement for what they are currently leaning into. You have to stay with them through the process of rehabilitation.

Rehab is a word that's thrown around quite a bit these days. Whether it's someone recovery from alchohol abuse or a stroke, rehab is the process by which people learn how to either regain function, or learn a completely new function. It is the antidote for dysfunction. Rehabilitation is what is being discussed in this text.

When someone is grovelling in the ashes of insecurity or self-hatred or shame, it does no good to point that out to them. It's like telling a cripple that he can't walk or mute that he can't talk...they know that. The transformational dynamic of the gospel comes when someone trades beauty for ashes. When someone can insert or inject beauty into the person's life story. When someone can vacuum out the ashes of condemnation and put on a crown of value and validation. When someone can rehabilitate someone from a place a uselessness to usefullness. This is the goal of the gospel...the replace the old with the new.

When someone is anchored to discouragement and depression, it's futile to masterfully preach at them about their self-loathing tendencies or their propensity to drag others down around them. They will be like, "Thanks a bunch, Mr. Obvious!" What they do need is a committed friendship that, with tact and timeliness, can pour the oil of joy into a moment when it's least expected. Someone to point out the things that are going well and worth living for. The person who finds humor in the darkest places and is honest about their own journey through the valley of the shadow of death. The person who knows the therapy of massaging the oil of gladness into someones stiff and bound up soul muscles. There is nothing like a good massage, is there? This oil that Isaiah speaks of is essential to the healing of the soul. Without it we run on treadmills trouble-shooting and never move toward freedom-shooting.

I think the reason why this replacement/rehabilitation model is so unpopular is because you actually have to love the person to do this type of gospel work. You can't just do a drive-by wave or a friendly "pat-on-the-back-I'm-praying-for-ya'-brother" type of transation. It means that you're in the trenches with this person feeling the arrows wizzing by your own head as you seek to protect them and fight for them on their battlefields, not yours. This is where inviting people to church misses something fundamental in the discipleship process. It's more about getting into their world with them than it is inviting them into your world. Don't get me wrong, some people need to retreat from their world in order to see the light, but it always starts with climbing into the story of the soul you're trying to rescue. We, often time, are counting on our environment to do the work for us. "If we can just get them here, the rest is history." When, in reality, the best thing to do is live among their daily routines and see where the breakdown is occuring. Getting people to dress up and smile on the weekends doesn't take much, it's getting people to understand what is killing them the other 167 hours of the week. You don't know that until you befriend them in their realm of existance.

You have to love people to live "this" gospel message. It's a long-term rehabilitation relationship often times. It's a replacement therapy that takes the kind of love the lasts. We need theologians and therapists. Maybe we could coin that term, "Theo-Therapists". It has a ring to it, doesn't it? That's what I want to be.


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