Sunday, December 31, 2006

Healing the Sick

If someone came to our church and she was bleeding, what would you do? Would you fill her a bag of canned goods and invite her to the next women’s Bible study? Of course not! You would call 911 and hold her hand and pray with her until the paramedics arrived.

You would understand that a health care professional is needed to heal her. It is clear that to deny this and try to take matters into your own hands is to endanger the health of the person you are trying to help.

People who are suffering mental illness or have deep emotional wounds are not bleeding. Sometimes you can tell right away that something is wrong; but other times you cannot. Sometimes they are skilled at hiding their wounds.

These people are not helped by attending a Bible study. They may indeed be seeking sympathy and help and inviting them to study the Word of God may seem initially like a good idea.

But it is not. And it’s not that they are not “well enough” to be able to participate in Bible study.

It’s like inviting the bleeding woman to Bible study. It is not healing. It is not what she needs. She must be directed to a health care professional. To not do this, to take matters into our own hands, is to endanger the person you are trying to help.

You also are endangering others. Because people who are mentally ill, or who have deep emotional wounds may hurt other people. They may hurt the other people we are ministering to. They may erode the effectiveness of our ministry by steering us off the course that Christ has us on.

They may hurt ministry workers, who are sympathetic to their plight and try to help in ways that over-extend or endanger themselves, the church and their families. Rarely, but it happens, that some people are manipulative and hurt those who try to help them.

Please do not misunderstand...we all, at times, experience deep emotional wounds. I certainly have! When we do, we do not want to forsake the fellowship of believers, especially our Bible study group. But sometime the wounds are so deep that individual help is also needed to experience healing and peace. Taking our deep issues to a group of women gives us too much superficial advice, too many voices, which adds to the confusion instead of giving clarity and peace.

And often mentally illness can be treated and while under adequate treatment, they are well able to attend a study. If they lapse in their treatment, however, that is when problems can occur.

People who come to a Bible study must have a desire to study God's word. People who have shown up at a Bible study are there because someone invited them or they discovered it on their own. But people show up because there is something inside them compelling them to try it. There is an interest, curiosity, desire on their part. They are not just dropped into it, or come because of another need that a Bible study cannot fulfill.

As ministry leaders, we must provide a safe place, physically and emotionally, for those who we serve, and those who serve with us.
  • We must set up boundaries that make our church a safe place.
  • We must be able to determine, not only who is bleeding physically, but also who is bleeding mentally or emotionally.
  • We must know the right health care professionals to contact.
  • We must train those who serve under us.
We must because we who lead must lead with diligence.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them... he who leads, with diligence... Romans 12:6,8

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