When our bodies are injured, we know to go to the nearest hospital for help. When our souls are sick, where do we go? We will find no help at the Regional Medical Center. Only God can help the soul and His hospital for the sin-sick is the church. Eugene Peterson was right when he said, “The Sunday morning congregation is a hospital” (Hos. 6:1; Mk. 2:17; Lk. 4:18). How is the church like a hospital?
GOD’S HOSPITAL IS A PLACE WHERE … YOU’LL FIND THE BEST MEDICINE
In heaven there is a special kind of tree with leaves that “heal the nations” (Revelations 22:2). On earth, God has no such tree, but He does have some “leaves” (pages) which contain his healing power (Romans 1:16; Acts 28:27).
Gods one hospital is the only place one can receive spiritual help, though there are quacks in false religion who peddle snake oil these are “physicians of no value” (Job 13:4) and make the situation worse instead of better (Mark 5:26). Only Christ and His plain can save (Acts 4:12; Galatians 1:6-9).
What are the doctor’s orders for sick folks? He has prescribed figs (Isaiah 38:21), roots and leaves (Ezekiel 47:12), and wine (yes wine) (1 Timothy 5:23) at times for the body, but none of these can help the heart or soul. There are people who need healing emotionally. Through life they carry with them emotional bruises that can be helped. For emotional illnesses, the Great Physician prescribes a merry heart (Proverbs 17:22), taking care of the physical body (1 Kings 19:7,8), a decreased workload (Mark 6:31), and increase faith (Matthew 6:30). Truly, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
There are others who experience no spiritual healing of the inner person, though it is readily available through the Great Physician, “who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy disease” (Psalm 103:4). For sin He prescribes faith (John 3:16), repentance (Romans 10:9,10) confession (Matthew 10:32), and baptism (1 Peter 3:21). For relapse, He prescribes repentance, confession, and prayer: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16; cf. Acts 8:22).
GOD’S HOSPITAL IS A PLACE WHERE… THE PATIENT MUST INITIATE TREATMENT.
Hospitals do not go door to door trying to drum up business! I’ve never received a circular from a hospital trying to get me to come by for a “trial visit.” One must realize he is sick and needs help before a hospital can do much good.
Sinner, too, must initiate treatment. Peter instructed patients to “save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40), and Paul said to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
To be motivated to do this, though, sinners must realize their condition. God rhetorically quizzed some sinners: “For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt… Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” (Jeremiah 8: 21,22). There was plenty of medicine, but the people did not even know they were sick (cf. Matthew 9:12). God has ample medicine to cure all the sin-sick today. The bottle is labeled “Holy Bible.”
Many today are like those the Doctor faced while practicing medicine on Jerusalem’s streets: “For this people’s heart is waxed gross (heart problems), and their ears are dull of hearing (hearing problems), and their eyes they have closed (vision problems); lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matthew 13:15). Oh that all men might say: “I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee” (Psalm 41:4).
GOD’S HOSPITAL IS A PLACE WHERE…THERE ARE RULES ABOUT ADMISSION.
A person does not just wander in off the street and decide he will spend a night in a hospital room. They have rules. They have to make arrangements for insurance, liability coverage, find out about allergies and medications, and record personal information. You have to be admitted. In the church, one also has to be admitted. We don’t just “walk in off the street” and accidentally find ourselves a part of God’s church. It requires instruction (John 6:44,45). We must agree to “hospital policy” (go by God’s rules, 1 Timothy 3:15). The Lord “adds” us to His hospital (Acts 2:47).
GOD’S HOSPITAL IS A PLACE WHERE … PEOPLE GENUINELY CARE FOR YOU.
Good hospitals have caring personnel. They come around with a smile, a word of cheer, and genuinely want to see you comfortable and recovered. If there is a crisis, they’ll stay overtime to pull you though. Doctors are willing to come in for emergency cases when they are not scheduled to work. In the church, similar care is shown to sinners seeking recovery. The Bible teaches “…that the members should have the same care one for another” (1 Corinthians 12:25). Titus had “earnest care” for his breathren (2 Corinthians 8:16). Paul had a genuine care for the churches (2 Corinthians 7:12; 11:28) and found that care reciprocated: “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity” (Philippians 4:10).
As staff workers in God’s hospital, we need to always make sure our care for patients is readily observable. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1). (Since Christians are both staff and patients, it is a two-way street.)
GOD’S HOSPITAL IS A PLACE WHERE … WHEN THEY’RE DONE WITH YOU, YOU GET TO GO HOME.
Some back-row-watch-watcher may see a pun here, but this has nothing to do with getting out five minutes early. It has to do with finishing our “treatment” on earth and being released into heave. Nobody wants to stay in a hospital forever. It’s temporary. Nobody wants to stay in God’s hospital forever either: “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven…For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being brudened…” (2 Corinthians 5:2-4). Paul was ready to “get out and go home.” He wrote, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain…For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:21-23, 27; 2 Timothy 4:6-8).
How many of us have not felt like the Psalmist: “Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed… Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake … I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears…” (6:2-4). There is hope! The Doctor is in!