Yesterday I had the unique opportunity to ask Bill Johnson of Bethel Church how Christians should view death. Bill Johnson has grown in popularity within the charismatic circles for one who pursues miracles and particularly healing. As with all Christians, he believes that nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 19:26), but he takes it much farther by intentionally pursuing God for the impossible. Having taken this approach to life and ministry, he claims he has seen many people healed. It was in this context, I asked him:
How does he keep himself from disappointment when the people for whom he pursues healing do not get healed?
As a disclaimer up front, Pastor Johnson was spontaneously answering one person’s question. These thoughts were not prepared for mass distribution. If you question or disagree with his answers, I could have easily misquoted him when I wrote down his answer. Of course, if you find it helpful, I will let him take credit for his answers.
Actually, this view is actually a good summary to Bill Johnson’s approach to this subject. He gives God the credit for anything He does, and he doesn’t blame God for anything He doesn’t do. Someone gets healed… that’s all God. Someone doesn’t get healed… there is more to pursue with God.
He has a view of Scripture that Jesus never turned anyone away who asked for prayer and everything Jesus prayed for happened. If we can do everything Jesus did and greater (John 14:12), than we need to approach life with that expectation. We can’t make Scripture say something different if the person we pray for doesn’t get healed. Our calling as followers of Christ is to make our experience match the Scripture.
He doesn’t want to minimize the pain people go through with loss. They had 11 people die in a 18 month period in his ministry. We mourn with those who mourn, but we don’t feed ourselves with what doesn’t work. We dwell on the successes we were able to experience when God did heal. We are a lot further along than we once were.
Later that night Bill Johnson posted on his Facebook page this quote:
The fear of diligently praying for blessing may be the most acceptable selfish attitude in the church. Tragically it’s called humility. By doing so we sustain a lie that keeps the world from discovering His goodness by looking at our lives. The testimony of His goodness will bring nations to Christ. Psalms 67
I thought this was an interesting topic given the post on grief earlier in the week. I am grateful for Bill Johnson’s willingness to answer this sensitive question and give insight on how those in the body of Christ that pursue God’s miracles manage the times when there is loss.