In case of emergency?

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You may well have heard the horror stories about people who overlooked a small lump or growth somewhere on their body, and who kept overlooking it, sometimes ignorantly, but sometimes wilfully, wishing it would just go away, finally heading to see a doctor when the mass had developed to a dangerous degree, only discovering the precise nature, degree and extent of the danger when the best options for dealing with it were largely in the past.

If we believe that there is some developing health problem, is it not the course of wisdom to obtain medical advice before it becomes an immediately life-threatening condition? Would you rather take your car to a mechanic because your brakes have started to stick or slide on occasion, or would you prefer to deal with the aftermath of a terrible accident because your faulty brakes, long ignored, finally failed?

Yet when it comes to our spiritual health and function we often allow problems to fester, developing and worsening over time until the matter becomes critical. Too many believers only go to their pastors when the tumours of sinful behaviour require radical surgery, high spiritual risks, hours of post-operative care, and limited likelihood of complete subsequent health. Many Christians call their overseers to say that there is a car-crash in a relationship or situation when they might have got their brakes checked weeks or months before, and all might have been put quickly and easily right.

To be sure, there are some problems which - by their very nature - cannot be easily identified in the early stages. There are some crises which arise without any warning: a car with perfectly good brakes can hit an unanticipated oil patch on an otherwise safe road. Under such circumstances no faithful pastor will complain of an urgent demand, but be willing and ready to respond to the genuine emergency. Furthermore, those who are overseers of the flock might use such opportunities as the regular pastoral visit to perform or provide a sort of spiritual health-check, a periodic medical of the soul in which those under our care are given the opportunity to bring up nascent spiritual health concerns, while we have the opportunity to do a little gentle probing and checking to ensure that the sheep are substantially healthy (and still the looming wrecks can go unpredicted).

But might I encourage you not simply to wait until everything seems broken before asking your pastors to fix it? Do not treat them like an emergency service who respond only when all other hope is almost or entirely gone, like Nebuchadnezzar turning to Daniel for counsel when the doom against his proud spirit was already looming on the horizon (Dan 4.27). Come to them early. Come when the first signs of trouble and difficulty are brewing. No faithful man of God will resent the opportunity to offer appropriate and necessary care for the flock of God as and when the need arises. Please do not reserve your approach to your pastors for cases of emergency.
Posted May 28, 2013 @ 8:31 AM by Jeremy Walker

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