Ministry & the Mentally Ill

“Turning Your Back,” Russian Folk Art

Religious people love to hide behind religion. They love the rules of religion more than they love Jesus. With practice, the Condemners let rules become more important than the spiritual life. “

— Michael Yaconelli

Mentally ill people are rarely seen in our Churches.  We are 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 proper things at the right time.  Pharisees [who are alive and well] insist on a level of purity that all must maintain. [Hey, I am not picking on anyone, it’s 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?”, [from the movie, “A Few Good Men”.] 

But– if we use our shortcomings as credentials– we have the ability to speak about grace, love and of self-acceptance, with real 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 who are presently afflicted and suffering into strategic places.

We are “sprinkled” throughout the Body. Our “gifts” are to speak to the Body, spiritually about a lot of things, but especially grace. We are bearers of grace. We’re the audio/visual department of the church.

If our fellowships become religious, it might be because we in our weaknesses, 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, they say with a thin smile.

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, in a way, receive Him.  Those who turn from us, muffling us, are doing that to Jesus. Frightening, isn’t it?

I would strongly suggest that we take our illnesses into the open. 

That we become transparent before 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.  Our weaknesses are really our strengths.

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 12:9-10, NLT

 

aabryscript

[This is a re-blog of one of our core teachings, originally posted 11/20/2009. I felt it was time to bring out of our musty old closet and set it before you again. I hope that it resounds deep within, and that it encourages those who must mix their discipleship with disability.]

 

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About Pastor Bryan Lowe

A repentant rascal with definite issues, but who is seeking to be authentic in his faith to Jesus Christ. An avid reader and a hopeful writer. Husband and father. A pastor and Bible teacher. A brain tumor survivor. Diagnosed with clinical depression, epilepsy, and now disabled. Enjoys life, such as it is, in Alaska.
This entry was posted in battle, believer, bipolar disorder, brokenness, Bryan's comments, C.S. Lewis, church life, compassion, condemnation, counseling, depression, devotional, discipleship, distinctiveness, fellowship of the saints, following Jesus, gentleness, giftedness, grace, Jesus Christ, life lessons, mental illness, ministry, personal comments, schizophrenia, self hatred, Serving Mentally Ill Christians, spiritual lessons, understanding, Very helpful, weakness and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Ministry & the Mentally Ill

  1. mattmanticus says:

    As someone who isn’t diagnosed with a mental illness, this is good information to help me understand. I’m glad you reposted this Bryan. One of the things that makes mental illness awkward is not knowing what to do. The thing I take away from this post is that I don’t have to have the answer. I can be involved by listening and observing and coming to terms with the Lord working in this situation. When healing doesn’t come, endurance and perseverance can be built. I am mentally chewing on this post man…thank you!

    Like

  2. Really great quotes, Pastor Bryan! Such truth here…

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  3. Kathy Huck says:

    Bryan this one made me cry!
    I may have some issues but in Christ I am standing and because of Him I am not ashamed of my mental and emotional shortcomings. He lives in me. I am so grateful that He has brought you onto my path. GOD IS AMAZING!

    Like

  4. kim says:

    I heard a teacher say the other day that one of the biggest heresies to hit the church is that “he suffered so that we dont have to”. The sad result is that if people miss understand the suffering in their lives they fight it as it was from the devil rather than grow through the process. ” We suffer with him so that we shall also share in his glory.” The importance of healthy theology.

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  5. kim says:

    Good post Brian. Couldnt help notice the orthodox “dressing” in your picture. Thought It was ironic I was listening to this guys story while I was reading your post. Thought I would pass it on.
    http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/frederica/from_pentecostal_to_orthodox

    Like

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