by Bryan Lowe
“Religious people love to hide behind religion. They love the rules of religion more than they love Jesus. With practice, Condemners let rules become more important than the spiritual life. ”
— Michael Yaconelli
“We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. … That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed.”
–C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
People with mental illnesses, for the most part, have been diverted underground. We have been pushed into hiding our true identity; we can come out into the open, but only if we agree to play according to the rules—their rules. We are expected to censor ourselves, and say appropriate things at the right time. Pharasees [who are alive and well] insist on a level of purity that all must maintain. [I am not picking on anyone, just a generality.]
If I say that I am depressed, paranoid, manic or desperate I will upset the apple cart and muddle up everything. “Truth? You can’t handle the truth?”, [a line from some movie.] But if we use our shortcomings as credentials, we have the ability to speak about grace, love and of self-acceptance, with authority.
Christians with mental illnesses, have been given a gift that we are to share with the Church. The Holy Spirit has sprinkled us into each fellowship of believers. He places us as we are suffering into strategic places. Our “gifts” are to speak to the Body, spiritually about a lot of things, but especially grace.
If our fellowships become religious, it is usually because we in our weaknesses, we have allowed ourselves to be silenced into submission by the “interpreters” of scripture. If we don’t like the rules, we are told to go elsewhere. We are not welcome.
But don’t you see, that is our moment to shine! Our “unsightly” presence shouts out to the “wonderful” people, proclaiming grace in weakness. Those who receive us, receive Him. Those who turn from us, muffling us, are doing that to Jesus. Frightening, isn’t it? It’s interesting to note the those who do not believe yet have often used “legalism” as the touchstone for their evaluation.
I would strongly suggest that we take our illnesses into the open. That we become transparent toward others. As we do this, we can oh-so-gently guide our fellowships into true grace and love. They look at me and they see Jesus. And that is our ministry as mentally ill people to the Church.
9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-11 (HCSB)
“The gospel is either radical, or it is nothing” — Me