Mental Illness and the Church

Excerpt from the Internet Monk (November 28, 2012).

“The mentally and emotionally ill are part of every church. They make up part of the body of Christ. They are persons baptized, professing faith, participating in fellowship, worship and ministry. They are ministers, teachers and pastors. They are the fathers, mothers, young adults, college students and singles in our churches. At times they are our children. Certainly they are part of the community every church seeks to reach.”

“Churches that choose to ignore mental illness are making the decision to deny a valid part of the human story. Virtually no one in our church would have felt it was possible to admit to mental illness without enormous stigma. The behaviors and struggles of the mentally ill were interpreted through other grids, from spiritual warfare to personal blame to contamination by worldly influences.”

“The presence of the sick, the poor and the mentally ill are important reminders of Jesus and his ministry in the Gospels. We cannot make the church a museum of “bright, shiny” people or “catalog model” teenagers and call ourselves the same movement that flowed from the ministry of Jesus. Mark’s summaries of the Galilean ministry of Jesus make it clear that those we would call the mentally ill were there in large numbers. This would not have been convenient, but it was of the essence of Jesus’ inclusion.
The church of Jesus Christ should create- or recreate- itself into a form that includes the broken, the sick and the mentally ill. We should be careful that what belongs to Jesus does not come to resemble a country club.”

“It is an important witness when we embrace those Jesus embraced, and include those he included. This is why the mentally ill can be a gift to the church, and a continuing opportunity to discover Jesus in those in whom he mysteriously meets us.”

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