I remember in the mid ‘90’s when the NBC drama E.R. burst onto the television scene. It was such an enormous success because of the incredible storylines of hope, rescue, and deliverance amidst the varying degrees of medical situations and difficulties. Over a dozen years later, the show is still going strong, and I’m guessing the attractive doctors and nurses who comprised the cast during that time haven’t hurt the ratings either.
What about the church? In the middle of our busy lives, have we ever stopped to make sure our church is a place of hope, rescue, and deliverance? Abigail Van Buren, the pen name for the “Dear Abby” column, had a very intriguing quote a while back concerning this whole idea of the identity of the church in relation to the medical field. It was this:
“A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”
The image of the hospital is a little disturbing to me, because the first place my mind wonders to is certain smells, over-priced taste-challenged food, and germs. I confess that those things may have held me back from frequenting hospitals as much as I probably should. But the marvelous thing about the church as a hospital is that a hospital never sleeps, never veers from its mission and purpose. Hospitals seem to attract the full range of emotions, miraculous moments, life-changing experiences, and intentional prayer. There are a large number of people working toward the same goals of healing, treatment, hope, rescue, deliverance…well, you get the idea.
I believe Jesus was onto this concept as well, his words customized for his Pharisee audience: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32) Jesus led the charge for His followers to meet “sinners” where they are, and not be afraid to eat with them, to know them, to love them, to guide them to His Father’s healing grace.
Imagine a place where a sick patient, after receiving the treatment needed for their illness, immediately began working in the ER…or maybe as a nurse…or maybe as a doctor. Imagine a church that never rested because it was driven by its mission. Imagine a people that traded the blessings of ritual Christian fellowship for the bottomless well ministering God’s grace to “sinners.”
May we all commit to be apart of "Hospital Church", and may our actions and prayers be directed towards this mission and purpose.