Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Church as a Hospital

   After we visit our local hospital or doctor for a particular ailment (see Part One in this series on the Great Physician), we can sometimes be completely healed of the problem. We can get a new start.  But we also discuss with the doctor or nurse about a plan so our new health will continue to flourish. This is called compliance:
 “Accepting life-saving treatment. The extent to which a person’s behavior coincides with medical advice. Adaptation or adherence to medical advice.” (d3jonline.tripod.com)
On the other hand, we can undermine our new-found health. In medical terms, this is called non-compliance. 
“It is estimated that 125,000 people with treatable ailments die each year simply because they do not take prescribed medications properly or they skip them altogether.” (“Why You Need To Follow Doctor’s Orders,” health.heraldtribune.com) 
“Most patients believe…that the less medicine they take the less sick they are. That is precisely why although we know than penicillin will cure a strep throat in 7 days we prescribe a 10 day course of the antibiotic. Many patients will stop as soon as they feel better.” (“Medicine: Facts and Fictions at ghthomas.blogspot.com) 
“We eat foods that kill us, we don't stick to our exercise regimens, and we don't follow our doctors' orders, even when we remember what they tell us. If you ask people whether it's smart to get a colonoscopy if the doctor says you need one, no one's going to say no… but no one wakes up and says, 'Yes, today is a good day for a colonoscopy.'" (“Mind Your Body: Doctor’s Orders – Without Distress.” www.psychologytoday.com)
     In other words, preventative medicine and follow-up plans trip a lot of people up. Those in the health profession agree: non-compliance is a huge problem.  Why?

 Because it’s hard!

     The doctor gave a blueprint for ongoing health – and for whatever reasons, we just have a hard time following it. “I’m not that sick…My doctor doesn’t understand…it’s so complicated…”  So we get more sick when we could be flourishing.
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    The Apostle Paul had a plan to help us be compliant once we have been spiritually healed by the Great Physician. By "compliant" I don’t mean non-thinking robots who legalistically follow and judge, and I don’t mean that we can save ourselves in the sense that only Christ can. Christ has a plan for how we can spiritually flourish while we are under His care.  In Ephesians 4, Paul explains how the church has been put together in such a way that we can all join together to experience the fullness of life in Christ.
And [God]  has given us apostles (founding messengers), prophets (forth-tellers), evangelists (those who tells the good news by vocation),  pastors (shepherds who care, feed, and protect) and teachers (instructors of Scripture)….
    We spend a lot of time talking about whether or not we fit into any of those categories, but we don’t always connect that phrase to the rest of the paragraph.  There is a REASON God has given all these things:
  • To equip the saints for the work of ministry 
  • To build up the body of Christ 
   Not only is there a REASON, there is a GOAL, a target:  “Until we all attain to…”
  • unity because of our faith
  • knowledge of the Son of God (experiential knowledge)
  • maturity (a spiritual process involving intelligence and virtue)
  • stature (being filled up with the presence of Christ when we are ready)
     And then we read the RESULT - the expected outcome is if we follow the doctor’s plan for health:
  • We will no longer be immature and simple, tossed around by the waves and carried away by every new teaching, deceitful people, or clever lies that sound like the truth. 
  • Rather, speaking the truth in love, we will be put together one piece at a time as we become more and more like Christ, the head of the church.
    This sounds like a great plan for ongoing health and life.  Is there a practical way to understand what this look like?

Part Three: Participating with God in our Spiritual Health


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