The Christian Healthcare Plan

On March 16, 2013 by Steve Miller

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What kind of care do you offer those under your spiritual leadership? Do you believe your job is to mainly dispense self help, offer motivational encouragement, or apply emotional salve? Do your efforts focus on making life more comfortable and increasing people’s happiness? Or do you believe you are called to do the tough work of revealing sinful strongholds and sanctifying souls?

Doctors and healthcare givers categorize treatments into three major headings curative, palliative, and preventative.

Curative care is directed at curing a disease. Palliative care involves providing care which helps relieve the symptoms, but does not treat the underlying cause of a disease. Preventative care is designed to prevent problems from ever occurring in the first place or take the appropriate steps to avoid future ailments. If you broke your arm skateboarding (as I foolishly did in college) you would receive curative care to reset the broken bones correctly. You would also take pain relievers to alleviate discomfort; this would be a form of palliative care. The final step would be getting rid of the skateboard to eliminate the possibility of the mishap being repeated, this is preventative care. When I broke my arm I stopped skating and took a lot of painkillers but did not visit a doctor right away. It took a friend tricking me into a car ride which ended at the clinic to get me to the curative step. I was stubborn, slow, and stupid in my self care; I needed outside intervention to deal with the root issue. I was angry at the time, but looking back now I am thankful my friend cared enough to risk temporarily upsetting me so I might get truly healthy.

My broken arm was a real problem and taking lots of Tylenol let me sleep at night, but I was not actually getting any better, I was just not feeling the full effects of my detrimental predicament. The pain relievers were in fact working against me getting better by masking the severity of the dilemma. Pain can be a warning signal something is wrong. Christians need to exercise discernment as we interact with one another to treat problems. We may compassionately want to alleviate someone’s pain, but be careful to first seek out the cause of the ache or with God’s leading discern if there is a larger root difficulty which needs fixed. God often uses painful and traumatic life situations to reveal faulty lifestyle choices. Do not work too quickly to stop suffering if the underlying problem is still undiagnosed. A prayer God often answer for me is, “Lord, please reveal the underlying root cause of this situation.”

Ephesians 1:16-19 (ESV): “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might…”

Our first concern is always the glory of God’s name and that His will would be done; often recognizing this truth helps reveal where we have gotten off track. Philippians 1:6 tells us God is faithful to continue to finish the good work He began in our lives; He is committed to seeing us living a holy life in line with His plan. Once we have identified the true cause of the problem and started curative treatment we then can engage in palliative care to relieve the stress and fatigue involved with spiritual growth. Because we know beforehand often curative based discipline is going to be difficult, draining, and at times even frustrating we can prepare ourselves for the hard work ahead. We know emotions and egos will sometimes get challenged or realigned and so we have to take care to maintain the unity of the Spirit and do all things with love and a goal of spiritual restoration. Because we know this is pleasing to, as well as directed by God, and part of the maturation process, we are willing to do it. It is for our good and God’s glory that we undergo the difficult work of sanctification.

Hebrews 12:11(NLT) No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening–it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

We must not stop our spiritual care at the removal of symptoms or only attempt to help people feel better. We must do the tough work of actually assisting them in getting better by leading them constantly back to Christ for an accurate root diagnosis and comprehensive treatment.

1 Timothy 4:6-10 in the Message paraphrase puts it this way:
You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers.

The final type of treatment may be the most important of all, it is preventative care. Once the root issues have been identified, corrected, and spiritual health is restored, we should establish disciplines which will prevent future spiritual failures and safeguard against unhealthy decisions. Humility will allow us to grow and mature through the struggles of our own sanctification process and increase the health of other Christians by identifying traps and pitfalls to avoid.

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