More Than a Hospital

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Atop of Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, Indiana’s largest medical facility, you will find this beautiful faux lighthouse with a rotating fixture that has the images of both a blue and a white cross. The lighthouse, which was built thanks to a generous donation by a local philanthropist and dedicated to “servants of religion, medicine, and philanthropy,” has been a symbol of hope in Indianapolis since 1933. It is said to be several stories high and is reportedly a replica of a lighthouse in London.

By definition, a hospital is an institution that provides medical and surgical treatment and nursing care for sick and injured people. Like many hospitals around the world, the IU Health Methodist Hospital is well known for delivering effective care and advanced specialized treatments to the critically ill.

To me, the church is in many ways like a lighthouse [Read The Church is a Lighthouse]. But I ‘ve heard some say that the church is also like a hospital; a place where the broken go to get healed. While there is some truth to this simile/analogy, I think it limits the overall responsibility/purpose of the church.

The church is a group of people (believers) who come together to worship God, grow spiritually, and fellowship. Its mission is to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ and make disciples, but it cannot fulfill this without first genuinely “loving on” each other. This love calls for the church-hospital to give friendly check-ups, like “God bless you. How are you?” or “We missed you last week. Is everything OK?” It should provide immediate emergency assistance, like intercessory prayer or practical spiritual advice. And while it is expected to offer specialized treatments, like discipleship and counseling, it should also participate in outparishoner care, like small (growth) groups, accountability partnerships, and follow-ups. But even so, the church is more than a hospital in that it is also a church-family. Unlike a medical institution, which people don’t look forward to visiting regularly, a church should be a place that people seek out intentionally because in it they feel safe, loved, and appreciated. In other words, they feel at home.

Potluck dinners, fun-filled group outings, and the freedom to cry, laugh, and agree to disagree (respectfully) are part of what a church should experience as a family, but so is repenting, forgiving, and admonishing and correcting each other in love. However, it is honesty, trust, faithfulness, and genuineness that authenticates and solidifies the family bond. These are the things that make a church more than a just a “hospital for sinners.” It’s what helps it create an atmosphere where people come together not just to get closer to God but to each other.people in the shape of  church.

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” – John 13:35

Commitment to unadulterated biblical preaching and teaching must exist in any church body if it wants the spiritually ill (unsaved) to accept their need for a Heavenly Physician. However, true caring, compassion, hospitality, and selfless servanthood must also be practiced if it wants them to be healed and experience the love of a Heavenly Father and his children. If a church lacks any of these, it borders on spiritual malpractice.

Prayer: Father God, as your child and part of the body of Christ, please fill me with a greater genuine love for my spiritual brothers and sisters. May that love radiate in such a way that it draws the spiritually ill to you so that they may find healing and salvation for their souls and join your loving family. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.

 SCRIPTURE
“And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” -Mark 2:16-17

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” -John 13:34

“Above everything, love one another earnestly, because love covers over many sins.” -1 Peter 4:8

“My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.” -1 John 3:18

“To conclude: you must all have the same attitude and the same feelings; love one another, and be kind and humble with one another.” -1 Peter 3:8

-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.

8 thoughts on “More Than a Hospital

  1. Amen. When I was younger, I struggled with the ‘worship songs are not for me’, ‘Sunday School is too early for me to attend’, ‘the pastor goes on too long’, etc, kind of mindset. Once I began to view church as something that housed worship to God and the love of fellow believers, I no longer look at the schematics of the service. “Church” is family to me- a wonderful family of believers waiting for their brother to return.

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  2. I serve in a church that has a very young college-age congregation and it’s so sad to see many of them view church with a very consumer-oriented attitude… that is, “I go because of what I can get, and when it no longer gives me what I need then I go somewhere else.” Unfortunately that’s not just a mentality of the youthful. How different would all our churches be if those who attended approached the doors of the building with not a ‘what can I get’ attitude, but what can I give! Thanks for this great reminder!

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    1. Thank you, Karen. I share your anguish. As the Discipleship Director of a small local church where baby boomers make up 85% of the fellowship, I too have witnessed this mentality. But thank be to the Great Physician who can count on a group of dedicated interns to selflessly give of themselves in order to see souls saved and taken care of. And thank God also for the body of Christ which consists of various parts working together throughout the world in order to share His love an grace. You certainly fulfill your part and I thank you for giving so selflessly to the ministry. God bless you and may He continue to use you in shining his glorious light!

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  3. Personally, I made the decision a long time ago NOT to attend Sunday services for me, but to worship and honor the living God. Everything else I receive, the ‘intensive care,’ the attention I might receive becomes a side benefit; almost like a medical insurance policy with the small print: NO CO-PAY. The church is NOT an organization, or it shouldn’t be. It is an organism. A living, breathing, intentional source. Always seeking, always searching for a better opportunity to share, disciple, baptize and teach others. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it! 🙂
    Thank you, brother Joe and keep on shinning the gospel message!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen! The church IS an organism. It is a body of believers (family) that continues to grow and spread by the sharing of God’s word. I grew up as an only child in a broken home. I always wondered what it was like to have a brother or a sister. But then I met Jesus and gained a wonderful family in God. I wonder at times if that is what it feels like to have blood-related siblings. Now, I regularly think of my spiritual siblings in other parts of the world where they cannot come together as a family and realize that all they have is a heart for God. Their faith and genuine love for Him is what carries them through. I pray that your spiritual insights reach many, especially those who may not be able to gather freely like we do. May your light also continue to shine ever so brightly. Blessings, brother.

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