Spiritual Docs & Soul Pharmacies

The Psalmist declared, “O my soul, why are you downcast within me?” For the past week I’ve been declaring, “O my nostrils, why are you so full of mucus and snot?”  This raises the question:

Are you one of those people who refuse to go to the doctor? Do you know anybody like that?

I have many faults and some stubborn tendencies, but this is not one of them. I got sick on Christmas Day, was in bed and miserable through New Year’s Day. I’m still fighting a lingering cold and sinus congestion 10 days later. So, today I went to the doctor. They diagnosed my problem. Prescribed a treatment.

I just walked into Walgreen’s located at the aggravating corner of long lines and slow service. I went up to a knowledgeable pharmacist who provided me with the medication / treatment for overcoming my condition (sinus infection) and regaining my health and quality of life.

While I spent my afternoon at the doctor and pharmacy taking care of my physical health, I felt weighed down by all the emotional, relational and spiritual “crud” affecting so many people I run into and pastor. Like a family doctor seeing a steady parade of miserable flu-ridden and drippy-nosed people come through his office, so I carry the pastoral burden of watching people under my care dragged down by spiritual viruses and deep soul-aches.

Jesus compared spiritual health with physical health when he famously said,

“Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent” (Luke 5:31).

Let me ask you again: Are you one of those people who refuse to go to the doctor when you’re sick? Or, are you dealing with a nasty case of emotional stress, nauseating levels of anxiety, an achy feeling deep in your spirit, or an inability to function due to the ever thickening fog of depression hanging over your life? Are your recurring marital struggles splitting your heart in two like a migraine splits your head?

Do you think God has left us without a Spiritual equivalent of Walgreen’s? Do you think there’s no spiritual, relational and/or emotional doctors who aren’t just waiting for you to schedule an appointment to begin the journey back toward wholeness?

While many churches have become Sunday entertainment centers offering a weekly inspirational pep-talk, I view the church as God’s little health spas and spiritual clinics and soul-pharmacies situated at the busy intersection of God’s healing grace and our sin-sick lives.

I left the doctor and headed to a restaurant for a bite and to continue reading and studying my Bible passage for this Sunday. Like breathing in the Vicks Vapors all week at home, I breathed in the Word of God and felt my spirit lifted and a jolt of hope and gratitude filled my heart. Why?

God’s Word is a medicine cabinet full of all the necessary treatments for all our human problems. God has given us the local church to be a little one-stop pharmacy where we’ll find all we need to begin treating our spiritual ailments. Like doctors and pharmacists, God has given the church

apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13).

In other words, your pastor should be standing by waiting for you to call and schedule an appointment, so they can help prescribe the right treatment to help “build you up” or strengthen your spirit. Perhaps, your pastor won’t sleep well him- or herself until your spiritual and emotional coughing, aching, sneezy, and wheezing gives way to the life-in-the-Spirit God created you for — a life fully mature and filled to the brim with the likeness and power (or “full stature”) of Christ.

For your colds and flus, keep taking your NyQuil, Mucinex, Sudafed and Robitusin. For your weary souls, let me prescribe daily doses of the Word of God, Prayer at least 3 times a day, regular partaking of the Eucharist, weekly worship, and the regular encouragement and truth-speaking in the fellowship of other believers (we call Huddles and Lifegroups).

But now a warning label on the back of this prescribed medicine: When Jesus sets himself apart as the Great Physician in Luke 5 above, he prescribes an unpopular drug. Let’s read it again:

“Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent” (Luke 5:31).

The Good Doctor prescribes a full dose of “repentance.” This scary word has a lot of negative baggage, but it speaks to the matter of fact reality that your current habits (some sinful, some unhelpful) have left you sin-sick and miserable. Like a good doctor, Jesus tells us we need to make some changes in our habits (“repent”) and start filling our lives with healthy habits and choices. “Repent” means stop that destructive lifestyle, and start filling your system with the ‘righteousness’ prescribed by Jesus (cf. Matt 5-7) along with Dr. Paul’s go-to multivitamin: “peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). You won’t such things sitting on a drug store shelf!

Do you need to call your doctor, or pastor, this week?

Do you need to make a trip to the pharmacy, or church?

 

 

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