9.20.06 from the refuge blog… Is there a Doctor in the Church?

I am a broken person. I do things I don’t want to do, I struggle with things I think I should be “over” by now, I don’t love the people closest to me the way I long to, I am selfish. I had better be careful or I will self-destruct. I want to be a better lover of God & people. I want to live out what it means to be a child of God.

Is there a Doctor in the church?

Jesus made very clear that I am the kind of person he wants to help. He said, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, the sick do, and I came for the sick.” He also tells me that I should not try to hide my sickness, which all of us have a tendency to do, especially in “the church.” He tells the Pharisees, the religious leaders of his time, “you worry so much about the outside, why not worry about the inside?” You see, we have always had a tendency toward hiding, toward pretending we’re well when we’re really not. I used to be a great pretender, the master. It’s why I need people in my life who won’t let me, who know that whenever I pretend, I never, ever feel better. In fact, I just feel worse.

If Jesus came for the sick, that means he came for all of us who were willing to say “hey, I’m not doing too well on my own, I think I need some help.” And it takes a lot of courage to say this out loud: “I NEED HELP. I need a doctor.”

There are lots of calls to the Doctor at The Refuge, that’s for sure (hey, maybe that’s why I use so many cell phone minutes???) Some people get scared by us because we are so honest, so raw at The Refuge. They say: “You’re not supposed to do that in church, are you?” I can see where they are coming from because honesty, authenticity, crying out for help is scary. It scares me, too, because it’s so unpredictable, unsettling, challenging. But just because something scares me doesn’t mean I am supposed to avoid it. The world is looking at the church, wondering what it has to offer them. The current American church has earned the reputation of being a place for the put together, the neat, the tidy, THE EXACT KIND OF PEOPLE that Jesus was railing against during his ministry in the gospels. He was pretty clear that he was about the sick, the humble, the needy, the broken, the lost, the ones who knew that without him, life wasn’t going too well.

And sick, broken, lost doesn’t necessarily equal homeless, addicted, divorced, unbelieving. It has absolutely nothing to do with what’s on the outside. It has everything to do with what’s going on inside our heart. And the truth of the matter is, whether we like to believe it or not, we are all pretty messy inside. We all need a Doctor.

Our only hope, in my opinion, is that we get to the Doctor and hang out in his hospital, the real church. I can’t begin to tell you how much healing has happened in my life hanging out in the ER with real, courageous people who aren’t afraid to say “I need a doctor.” It has made me feel so less alone, less afraid of all of the “surgery” that I keep having to have. I used to avoid going to the Doctor like the plague, tried to do it on my own, keep it all together and not need God too much even though I was a “good Christian.” Yeah, it didn’t go so well.

We have a Great Physician, the Healer, the Restorer and I am certain he can bring life out of the wreckage for all of us. And I believe Jesus calls the church, is calling The Refuge, to be a really cool hospital where He can do what He does best…heal, restore, bring hope, new life.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

One Comment

  • Huh…maybe I need to find people in my life who won’t let me “pretend”.

    I agree that Jesus was about “the ones who are sick, humble, needy, broken, lost, the ones who knew that without him, life wasn’t going too well”. But I think he was about the ones who didn’t know that without him, life wasn’t going too well, too. Maybe you said that in your post and I just mis-read it.

    I’ve been a person who was very much on the inside of the church, and when I started questioning, found that I was kicked to the outside. That annoyed me. The questions I had should have been supported. If they wanted me to re-join the flock, why was I turned out of the pasture. Why not follow the one who is wandering with love, rather than turning them out. Good teachers lead students to better solutions. They don’t just write the answer on the board and expect everyone to get it.

    My big pick with most people in churches is that they want people to come to them who are ready to join up to think like they do. They don’t want to nurture people through normal growth experiences, and be there for them, mistakes and all.

    It’s like some people want us to give the “right” answers without even knowing why they are right. “Labratory testing” of the “wrong” answers is highly discouraged, because we have a book that tells us all the right answers, even if we have no idea why they are right. My mistakes have shed more light on the truth in the bible, than all my avoidance of messing up ever did.

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