a community of faith is a hospital for the sick

I’m not sure why (though I’m certain there is some psychological reason), but people find people falling funny! People tripping people, people falling down stairs, people tripping over their own feet, it does not matter what the situation, people find people falling funny. Think back to the last person you saw trip, did you point and laugh? Did you chuckle to yourself? Did you smirk? What was your first reaction? Be honest, we all have a first reaction – and none of us are perfect. Now, think about the last time you tripped, what was the reaction of others? Did they laugh? Did they find you falling funny? How did you feel? You see, while we find other people falling funny, we find our falling painful or embarrassing. When it happens to us, falling is not very funny, it hurts; it hurts on both a physical and emotional level – it just hurts. We, as Followers of Christ, need to be a people who pick people up when they fall, and not people who point and laugh – we need to be different. Helping people heal requires we help people up.

“Jesus, overhearing, shot back, ‘who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go and figure out what the Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I am here to invite the outsiders, not coddle insiders.'” Matthew 9:12 – (The Message, page 29)

I’m not sure who said it, all we know is that it is a fact “the church must be a hospital for the sick, and not a museum for the saints.” I like the metaphor of “hospital” when it comes to the church; because I like seeing Jesus as The Great Physician, and the rest of us as “Emergency Room Support Staff” helping people who are truly hurting. For me personally, Jesus has brought healing – and continues to bring healing – to my life.

When we see the community of faith as a place for people to come who are hurting and in pain we need to remember some very important items:

It can be messy: It is – the “Emotional Vomit” of people in need. Sounds harsh, but there is no other way to truly explain it and its “messiness.” People who are sick, truly sick, need a place where they can, in all safety “toss their cookies” and get rid of all the garbage that is inside them. When we see ourselves as an ER and those God is sending us as people in need of our help, we need to understand it is going to get messy, sometimes very messy. Healing starts by allowing people the freedom to be messy. Let’s not be concerned with the mess; let’s be concerned with the healing.

It requires constant care: You can see this as a “Rotation Schedule.” It takes more then one person to help people heal from the world around them. We, as members of the ER, need to spend time helping people heal. Small groups are a wonderful way of giving this kind of care, by allowing people to use their God given gifts to help others.

It requires compassion and empathy: Compassion requires us all to help each other through healing times; empathy is remembering the pain we suffer, and relating it to the pain of others. To be a “healing place” one needs to be a place that picks people up when they fall, and not a place where people laugh at you when you fall. John Maxwell said it best, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

It requires love: It’s time to “kiss the boo-boo.” A hug; some extra time; a phone call; a birthday card; a moment together; a special thought; deep prayer. Love is not a feeling; it is an action (Matthew 10:25-37). Jesus tells us to “Do this and you will live” (10:28) not “feel that way and you will live.” Love is action on our part, we need to honestly and truly love those we meet, and truly desire for them to see God for all His glory through us.

It requires that we understand we are not the Healer: No matter how good we think we are, we are not the one who heals; God is the one who heals. We are there to care for and help people as God works His healing on them. That means we are not trying to “church” people, we are trying to bring people into a healing relationship with Jesus Christ.

It requires 24/7: Being ready to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week; after all, ER’s are open 24/7 and we are “God’s ER.” Are we ready? If we receive a phone call at 2:30 AM, on a workday, from a person who needs to talk about a life issue, are we ready to take the call – or will we ask them to call back later? Or worse, will we just not give out our phone number in fear that someone may call. 24/7 is hard, and can draw a great deal of emotions out of us, but when we know we can all one each other – honestly call on each other – life is easier to live.

Finally, it requires support: When things get messy, people get upset. The support that is needed is primary to truly helping people heal. We need to support each other, and be willing to help each other “scrub-up” before and after the operation. This requires all of us to be in prayer, deep prayer, and their needs to be a “Support Team” available for those who are feeling the “mess of others” creep into their lives.

Today people are hurting; people are in deep pain. We need to be a people willing to get down, and get dirty to help people find true healing in Christ. In James (Page 483 in The Message) it says this, “So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage.” People are in pain, filled with spoiled virtue and cancerous evil, and we need to get down and help them find Christ in their lives.

As people who are concerned about the lost; as people concerned about helping people find a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ; as people who desire strongly to help seekers find a true and lasting relationship with a true and lasting God, we need to be people willing to open our hearts in love and grace. We need to be ready to open our emotions to others, and get ready to pick people up when that fall. Hurting people are all around us, at the office, the softball game, the soccer game, next door, down the road – you name the place and you will find hurting people in need of God’s healing touch. Education does not stop the pain, money does not stop the pain, age does not stop the pain, only God, in all His love, grace and forgiveness, will stop the pain. We need to use our lips for more then just service – we need to speak the truth in love.

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