In New Zealand the Equippers church – apparently a sort of Baptist church- put up a poster claiming “Jesus heals cancer.” This caused some consternation and emotional pain for people who are presently suffering from, dying from and fighting cancer.
I think the poster was silly and thoughtless. But I suspect it came from that bizarre flavour of Christianity of the ‘health and wealth’ Gospel with it’s ‘name it, claim it’ aspect.
If the question was “Can God heal cancer?” the answer would be “yes” but if the question was “Does God heal cancer?” The answer can only be “Sometimes.”
Apparently, when the church got into trouble with the advertising people thanks to complaints received by those facing cancer without a miracle, they changed the poster to “Jesus heals all illnesses” or words to that effect.
Again they are not looking at the question properly. Of course Jesus can heal whatever He wants to heal – but very often He doesn’t. Taking a line of the Gospels (I think they referenced a verse of Matthew) and stretching it to breaking point is not very Christian and worse still, these people are putting massive stumbling blocks in the way of the vulnerable.
The problem this church has is they have no theology of suffering. The fact is that many good and holy Christians suffer. Some of the greatest saints who ever lived suffered immensely. St Paul is our example in offering joyfully his suffering to that of Christ’s for the sake of others (Col 1:24). Paul’s suffering was pretty awful, either by the hands of others or from his own body. His description of his bodily suffering has left many wondering if he was the first saint to receive the stigmata.
In his letter to the Romans he reminds them that by suffering with Christ they will be glorified with him. This is a reminder that Christ told us to pick up our cross daily and follow Him.
Many Christians find accepting suffering as a grace very difficult. The last thing such people need is some sound bite poster twisting the truth and adding confusion to the pain.
In fact, when it comes to bringing Christ and His love to everyone, posters just don’t cut it. The corporal works of mercy demand we visit the sick, not put up posters to them.