By: Dennis Bates
A doctor once told me that the reason I didn’t feel good was because it was hot outside and I was fat. Okay, so it was in the low 90’s and I was several pounds heavier than I should have been given my height, age, and…uhm weight. It didn’t take a medical school education to come up with that diagnosis, and I told the doctor that.
I also told him he was going to have to come up with something better than that if he ever hoped to see his fee for the office visit. He then told me he could prescribe some pills to help curb my appetite in the short run, and that I should exercise more and eat less. Again, I was less than impressed with his advice.
I don’t take any more drugs than I absolutely have to take unless caffeine counts in the morning and an occasional glass of some adult grape juice counts in the evening. That ruled out the diet pills, although Dr. Feel Good never really called them that. And people wonder why I hate going to the doctor.
The only thing useful that I learned from that visit was that my health insurance had a $15 co pay now instead of the $10 ante it used to have. On a related note, I also learned that maybe I should look for a different doctor. If I wanted a weather report I could watch television or just stick my head out the door. As far as the pills went, I thought the pharmaceutical companies had enough money; I didn’t need to give them more.
As I thought about the doctor’s advice sometime later, it dawned on me that we all give useless advice like that doctor did, and we give it on far too many occasions.
Many churches collectively beat their chests and wonder why they can’t get new members so they hire consultants to develop power point presentations, develop strategic plans, and put up web sites on the Internet. Some of those may actually be helpful, although I will need to be convinced about why we need a strategic plan, not to mention educated about what it really is. While we’re at it, you can pretty much skip the power point slide presentations too.
In short, we don’t need to reinvent the modern day church; we need to reinvent the old one…bring it back and learn why it worked.
Country doctors made house calls; they knew people’s names and they often became part of the family for their patients. They listened, held a patient’s hand when the patient needed it and knew everything they needed to know about the peculiar medical conditions each of their patients had.
Church pastors used to be the same way, and to some extent, so did church congregations. They didn’t say take two pills and call me in the morning, nor did they stand by and watch somebody ask for help. They simply provided it, and they did it with love, not by saying of course you feel bad you’re fat…of course you feel empty, you’re a sinner.
Show me how to eat so I don’t gain weight; hold my hand and encourage me as I struggle; show me your love. Don’t just tell me I need it. I know that. I went to the doctor so he could show me how to feel better and he told me the obvious. He gave me nothing of himself. I came to church for the same reason: so it could show me how to feel better…less empty, and it told me the obvious, giving me nothing of itself.
Maybe both the medical profession and the religious communities would be better off giving more of themselves and less judgmental, patently obvious advice wrapped in something we don’t really need.