Sunday, October 11, 2015

FOR MENTAL ILLNESS AWARENESS WEEK:JESUS WAS CALLED INSANE


John 10:20 (ESV) Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?”

The question is often asked what should be the response of the church to folks who have been given a psychiatric label?  Many denominations have come up with statements, papers, booklets and training materials on how a congregation should go about reaching out to us.  Yes, I have have a couple of psychiatric diagnoses.  They don’t seem to be handed out one at a time anymore.  They are all good materials.  However, the best materials in my opinion can be found in the Gospels and the Book of Acts.  Jesus reacted to each person as an individual and did not shy away from them no matter their malady, sinfulness or social status.  The early church saw to it that everyone was taken care of “as any had need.” (Acts 2:45 ESV)

The church is the natural home of the hurting.  What is home like?  It is a place where you would be seen as whole even in your brokenness.  The best example of this in literature is the way Jesus treated those He came in contact with.  He did not smile and agree they were angel material, but on the other hand He was always willing to be with them and break bread with them and heal their illnesses and wounded souls.  

Home is where your both your soul and self are embraced.  The church as a healing home does not have to try to be a mental health center, but rather just be itself.  God’s people in community where folks can find love not because of what they can do or have, but because they are one of God’s children.  The greatest tool I have in my daily struggle is knowing God loves me no matter how well I can function in this world.  He walked with me when I lived on the streets and He walked with me when I ran my own company.  He has guided me since 1988 in this ministry called Project Dream Again.  He knows my flaws.  He knows my illnesses.  He loves me anyway.  He helped me find a wife who loves me anyway.  Everybody can’t have a wife like Patty, but everyone could have a home in a community of believers if the shepherds would start looking where the hurting sheep are.

No special programs are needed, but discussing the issues openingly so people know they are welcome and don’t have to hide in shame is one way to show love.  To be inclusive means you may have to do some creative accommodations.  Maybe  a room where folks can hear and see the service, but still move around if they need to.  I can’t always sit still through an entire service.

© Ed Cooper, April 29, 2015, Stoney Creek, TN
All rights reserved
Republished from another blog

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