Having grown up in a church that was long on evangelistic emphasis, and an awareness of heaven and hell…but short on practical teaching about how to live “here and now”…has shaped me. I have a pet peeve for “irrelevant Christianity.” I believe God’s word is relevant to everyday life, and we do a dis-service to God and those who are searching, when we fail to show how the Bible offers truth for healthy living.
You can imagine then, how much I enjoyed the class “History of Pastoral Care” in the winter of 1981. Doc taught it, and in the first lecture, he made the point that I copied in bold letters” “MAKE THE SUPERNATURAL PRACTICAL!” I couldn’t have agreed with Dr. Dobbins more. It is a pastor’s responsibility to bring God and His word, “up-close-and-personal” to those we lead.
As I stated in my earlier blog, Doc was gifted at putting spiritual, supernatural truths into practical terms. This blog shows an example of how Doc made a supernatural truth practical:
James 5:16 tells us to: “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” This powerful, life changing, soul-healing truth is often overlooked. Yet scripture makes it clear to us that appropriate, transparent honesty is important for personal, internal health.
Here is how James 5:16 was phrased by Doc, and recalled by one of the people who eulogized him at his funeral:
“OUR ADVERSARY BUILDS STRONGHOLDS IN OUR (REGRETTABLE) SECRETS, AND REINFORCES THEM WITH SILENCE.”
Doc taught us that one of the greatest healing dynamics in counseling…or, for that matter, in healthy Christian relationships, is the ability to safely share (confess) hidden sins, failures, fears, feelings…to a compassionate listener. There is something FREEING about speaking it out, being heard, understood, forgiven (if necessary) and affirmed.
Likewise, keeping our sins and shame secret, builds soul dis-ease. We can spend (waste) precious energy trying to keep our secrets. The secrecy is reinforced by condemning thoughts that echo in our mind: “You cant’ tell anyone that! What will people think? If you say something, they won’t understand…they’ll think so much less of you!” The accusing thoughts go on and on.
As a result, far too many people carry shameful, painful, guilty secrets within. The pain and dysfunction of those secrets grow, and we lose our internal sense of health and well being.
Stop carrying those deep, dark secrets alone. The Bible would encourage you to find a trustworthy confidant to share it with. We don’t need someone to just condone or dismiss our struggle…but someone who will offer you grace, understanding, forgiveness and hope.
I know from personal experience, when I share my struggle with such a trusted confidant, whether that has been a Christian counselor, or one of my accountability partners, it is amazing how the internal load is lifted. Health and healing are found in the context of caring, appropriate open-ness…not crippling secrecy.
Thanks “Doc,” for that great advice.