I wonder what you think a Christian should look like.
For a long time I thought that to be a believer, I had to have it all together. Yes, I knew that Jesus saved me – but I figured that from that point on, it was up to me to keep going and to live a certain way. The problem was, that no matter how hard I tried, I still kept messing up. And not just in small ways – like forgetting to pray for missionaries. In big ways, that really hurt me and other people.
I needed support – but I felt like church was the last place that I belonged. Church was for proper Christians – not messed-up people like me. How could I be a Christian if I was anorexic? Or depressed? How could I love Jesus and still be struggling with self-harm? If I wanted to be a believer, surely I needed to fix myself first. Right?
The gospel is not for good folks who are in perfect health. It’s for ordinary, messed-up people, with all sorts of problems: including struggles with mental health. In Mark chapter 2, Jesus says this: “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick, I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
No-one goes to the doctor saying “I’m doing great, just thought I’d let you know.” We go because we’re sick and we can’t fix ourselves. We go because we need help. The point about being a Christian is not that we rescue ourselves – whether from sin or sickness. It’s that we are all broken and we share the same Saviour.
In the same way, church is not for people who have it all together. It’s for people who know they need rescue. Medical and professional support is important. But we need soul care too.
What’s the medicine? Jesus gives us Himself. He promises to draw near to us in all our sin and all our suffering. Psalm 34:18 says that He is ‘close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ He is a God who understands what it is to be weak and sad and lonely and frightened – and who can bring hope into even the darkest places.