What About the Doctors?by Pastor Brian
I get asked this a lot: “do you think Christians should use doctors?” It’s usually after I’ve preached on the ability of God to heal and especially with regard to mental health. Some of the most striking stories of the Gospels are miraculous healings performed by Jesus and His disciples. “The lame walk, the blind see and the Kingdom of God is proclaimed among the poor” (Matthew 11:5).
The purpose of the healings was to demonstrate the Kingdom of God. They were part and parcel of Jesus’ prayer “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” As a church we believe since we are still proclaiming the kingdom, since God is still king, and since healing is provided for in the atonement of Jesus, we should seek divine healing. But what about the doctors? Should we not visit a physician? Doesn’t that betray a lack of faith? Some people look at the fact that the woman in Mark 5:26 “suffered much under many physicians” as evidence that faithful Christians shouldn’t pursue medical healing. Such an interpretation is not what the text is about. So what is the relationship between miraculous healing and medicine?
- God is our Provider: According to James 1:17 ESV, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” This means no matter the avenue, God is to be given glory for healing. God works in miraculous ways but also in mundane ways. The New and Old Testament refer to God as the provider. But that does not mean the provision is always miraculous. Paul commands the churches to work for a living (2nd Thessalonians 3:10). This doesn’t mean God is not our provider, but that He provides in a multitude of ways. Ultimately we put our trust in God.
- Medicine Is a Part of God’s Provision: Jesus compares Himself favorably to physicians. The good Samaritan binds up the Jewish man’s wounds. And while the new testament records people burning their magic books, we don’t necessarily see them burning their anatomy books. In fact, when Jesus healed the ten lepers, He asked them to follow the Biblically prescribed path and show themselves to the priests who were in charge of infections skin diseases (Luke 5:14).
- What about Mental Health?: As complicated as most of our bodily systems are, the mind is more complex than them all. When it comes to mental health, there could be any number of problems: physical hormonal problems, cognitive problems, spiritual problems, and even demonic influence. Not only are there multiple regions of the brain, but these areas can easily affect one another in addition to affecting the body. When it comes to mental health a multi-pronged approach is probably best. Jesus came that we might “have life and have it abundantly.” While I’ve seen people primarily healed by God’s hand or through Bible counseling, I’ve also seen where medication has helped someone to get back into the Word of God, enabling them to reenter into Christian community where they find the support they need to live each day for Jesus. To ignore the provision of God in the field of mental health would be irresponsible.
- We Begin and End with God: The flip side of an irresponsibility towards medicine is an idolatry of medicine. As great as our modern advancements in medicine are, they cannot save us. Even if we can prolong life, the effect of sin is death. The woman in Mark 5 isn’t unfaithful because she went to the doctors, rather she is faithful to pursue Jesus when she is at the end of her rope. We have the opportunity to go to Jesus and the doctors at the same time. If you have a severe accident don’t wait to call 911 until after you’ve prayed. You can pray and dial at the same time. You can pray in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. If you have an infection and it’s cleared up by antibiotics, you can thank God.
- When the Kingdom Breaks Through: Miraculous healing happens. We can pray for it. So what do you do when this is the way God heals you? We follow Jesus’ advice and go show ourselves to the experts. It’s possible for the joy of the Lord God gives you to get through something be mistaken for the healing itself. It’s possible the ailment that was healed still has to be nurtured. The best reason to go to the doctor after a healing is that it’s great testimony to the doctors. It doesn’t take glory from God – quite the opposite. Your healing is not ultimately about you or your faith, but about the one in whom we put our faith: Jesus.
Use the doctors, but first and last, trust in Jesus.