In my 24 years since walking down the aisle to give my life to Christ, I have been a member of four churches and attended many church services- even within different denominations of faith. Yet in all my years, I have never seen emotional and mental chains being broken by the power of the Holy Spirit…until yesterday.
The word offered by my church’s senior pastor was too powerful and too on-time for me to try to summarize it on this blog; you have to go watch it for yourself here. In fact, the only reason that I am mentioning it (besides my desire for you to watch it and be blessed) is because it is time to have real conversations…in church.
I have been saved for 24 years and battled depression for 22 years. If you do the math, you will see that I was battling depression even as a Christian. One common misconception is that Christians do not have struggles. LIES! We have many struggles, issues, burdens, loads, and scars just like the rest of the world. The only difference is that we choose to give all of our pains to God, trusting His purpose and plan. We hold fast to the belief that even as Jesus suffered, bled, and died for the greater purpose and plan of God the Father, we, too, must endure through some storms. However, just as Jesus arose, healed and better than before He was buried, we, too, will arise better than we were before the storm(s). In addition to the misconception that Christians do not have struggles, another misconception is that church (the physical building itself and attending church) can heal all of our issues.
Growing up my mother threw me in the closest church just to make sure that I was saved. Every Sunday I was driven to church by either her coworker or my best friend’s family until the day I got my driver’s license. I love my mother with all my heart, but she thought then (and kinda still thinks now) that the physical edifice of the church will save any person from whatever battles they might face. I do not mean to burst any bubbles but [POP!] that is not true.
- We, God’s people, are the church. Matthew 18:20 (NKJV) says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Jesus is very deliberate with His words. Notice how He does not mention a physical building…because a building does not a church make. We are the church. You and I, when we get together in Jesus’ name, we are the church.
- Attending church, no matter how Holy Ghost-filled it may be, will not save or change you. Beloved, if my allergies would let me, I could stand in a forest all day and would never become a tree. Likewise, merely attending church will not make you a Christian. Church really is the hospital where the spiritually sick are healed, but just like at a real hospital, people need to be inside doing work. Simply put, religion and a physical edifice will not save you- relationship will. There are MANY scriptures that support Jesus’ desire for relationship with us versus religion. But the quickest reference is His life. During His earthly ministry, He preached about how the only way to God was through Him, not through the religious practices of the Old Testament. God is the vinedresser, Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches…we need a relationship with Jesus in order to get to God (John 15:5).
- God has provided all of our needs…including face-to-face help. Going back to the hospital reference, if you needed surgery for an issue, would you provide it for yourself or go to someone who specializes in the issue that you have? God’s grace is sufficient and He has provided all of our needs by continuing to provide earthly people to tend to our earthly needs. Therapists, Psychologists, and Counselors exist for the same reason that dentists and primary care doctors exist- to help us in our time of need.
I am grateful that when I needed therapy, resources were available. I am also grateful that when I could not reach for the Lord, He reached out for me instead. A physical church will never heal a hurting person. Instead, the church (the people, through prayer and support), a genuine relationship with God, and the use of skilled professionals will help. I applaud my pastor for having this conversation during Sunday morning worship service and I encourage you to have these conversations with those around you.
If you or someone you know is battling depression and/or mental health issues, please get professional help. There is nothing wrong with seeking help and you are not a bad Christian or person if you see a therapist. In fact, as Christians we admit that we do need help and guidance from God. Seeking and receiving help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of wisdom. Be wise and be well.