We can be physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy or sick. And just as a physical illness may go unnoticed or undetected for quite some time, it is much the same with our spirit.
Recently someone I know who is around 60 years old went to the doctor and discovered several severe medical problems. Over sever weeks things grew worse. Each specialist found even more complex problems. From one perspective it might appear that these things “just happened”. In reality these problems had been developing over several decades. For the most part undetected by the individual and undetected by the doctors — because they never went to the doctor for a physical.
It is quite common for people to fear going to the doctor. After all, the doc may give us bad news. As if the doctor finding something suddenly causes the problem. Intellectually we know better, but emotionally we fear facing negative realities.
In some ways it is refreshing to be in an area (the North West) where, for the most part, people do not think of themselves as “religious”. This follows many years of ministry in what is often referred to as the Bible belt, where a greater percentage of people regularly attend religious services — i.e. church. Many of these people believe they are spiritually healthy because they participate in spiritual activities.
Please do not misunderstand, I believe attending church is a good thing. It can help lead to solid spiritual health. At the same time, it can also lead people to believe that they are spiritually healthy when they are not. Much like going to the doctor and telling him/her that: “I am feeling/doing fine…no problems here doc.” All the while neglecting to tell the doctor of the intermittent chest pain, frequent headaches or stomach problems, etc. The doctor may even express concerns about some blood work or other findings all to be dismissed or ignored by the patient.
When we (Christians) act spiritually healthier than we really are, this smacks of hypocrisy to those outside the Church or those who have stopped fellowshipping among us. This can serve as a hindrance to reaching those considered unchurched. In areas where church attendance is high, this presents creative challenges for the church concerning outreach.
In our under-churched areas of the country we have tremendous opportunities to spread the love and grace of God. It is much like the person who has never gone to the doctor. Spiritual health has been so neglected that by the time spiritual problems come to light, the severity of the problem is hard to ignore — much like our physical example above. This can create tremendous opportunities for the healing power and love of God to transform individuals and communities.
For those of us who have a spiritual/religious background, we should consider asking ourselves: Do I have a realistic assessment of my spiritual health; am I ignoring any warning signs? If this is the case, there is great news. We can take action to heal and grow spiritually!
No matter where we live, as we are addressing our own spiritual health needs, we can allow God to use us to shine His love and light providing other people the opportunity for spiritual healing and health.