I’ve spent a great deal of time in and out of the hospital recently. Sitting around various waiting rooms I began to think about what could a church learn from a hospital. In many ways these institutions are dissimilar. However, there are innumerable real life lessons discovered down the hallways of a hospital that bring focus to mission and visions for life both individually and corporately.
Here are a few reflections…
-Bad stuff happens, be ready!
Life inside a hospital causes you to quickly learn that suffering is inevitable in this life, for some more severe than others. Some try to ignore the possibility of pain, others figure out things to blame the suffering on. But ignoring is ignorance and too many people are busy arguing questions that people who are hurting aren’t even asking. Jesus clearly tells us hard times are part of our humanity. (John 16:33…In this world you will have trouble.)
So, as churches and as followers of Christ we need to prepare ahead of time. We need to be ready for the likelihood of suffering and not be swept away by trouble whether that be our own or that of another. In Christ we have the power and the perspective needed to endure any and every trial, as the remainder of the previous verse states…
John 16:33 In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
-The proper diagnosis determines treatment
If it’s discovered that you have cancer, advice to ‘take two aspirins and call me in the morning’ is a prescription that would get many doctors a sucker punch on the chin. Diagnosis is foundational and leads to the proper course of treatment. This is why so much time is taken to determine and confirm the right diagnosis, so that the very best plan can be made.
Often in our lives, and in our churches we are more interested in treatment options than we are fully understanding the diagnosis. Christian bookstores are filled with the equivalent of self-help books, sermons are laced with 6 steps to a happier, holier home and a hotter husband. We love to do stuff, we value helping ourselves.
Yet the gospel truth is that everyone of us are ravaged to our core by sin, a disease more menacing and demanding than the vilest cancer. We are held in sins vice grip, and none of our 6 steps to freedom or self-esteem exercises can break it’s power. Only through the loving and costly grace of Jesus Christ can sin be overcome and salvation found.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For some this does not seem to come across as an encouraging story, BUT I believe that only when we discover the gravity of the diagnosis of our sinful state, will we be able to fully embrace and rejoice in the glory of Christ! The biggest problems in our churches and in our lives are not divorce rates, financial or sexual issues, rather, it’s sin! So then, turn to Christ, run to Christ, and trust Christ today, everyday, and every day after!