Firing Jesus as our Therapist

Say hello to Jesus, the Therapist...

You've probably never heard Him called that. But if you were to survey a lot of popular preaching and teaching these days, I think you would discover that this is the role in which Jesus Christ is heavily cast as.

Week after week, book after book, and conference after conference (especially at women's Christian conferences), we hear a lot about the Jesus who is here to help us get over our inner struggles and emotional problems.

"No need to carry around all that emotional baggage anymore," they say, "Jesus will help do that for you!" Many are told that Jesus is here to help us forgive those who have wronged us, to free us from guilt, shame, and regret over our past, and to help us improve our self-image and the insecurities that cripple us in our daily lives.

While there is some truth to these things, I feel that our continual preaching of Jesus Christ as a divine therapist has created a lopsided perception of who the Lord actually is.  So much so that I think it is about time we fire Jesus Christ from being our therapist!

Don't get me wrong.  The Bible does say that Jesus is the "wonderful counselor," and our friend in a time of need.  He's here to take our burdens upon Himself.  He is the lifter of our head, a rock, a refuge, a mighty fortress, and strong tower.  He bottles our every tear.  He gives us joy unspeakable and full of glory.  He forgives our sins.  He restores our soul.  He is our healer.

And He is all these things, and a thousand more...

But for all these things the Lord is, these are not things the Bible spends all that much time talking about.

Instead the Bible prefers to talk about God's ultimate purposes in the world, what He's looking to accomplish in creation, and how He's called us to fit into all of that.

When the Bible does talk about issues surrounding our inner struggles, it isn't usually talking to people like you and me. Rather, it usually is talking to people who are experiencing literal life and death situations, and who are very much in need of real help.  And it's talking to people who are busy carrying out God's will for this world.

It's talking to people who are surrounded day in and day out by actual danger, who worry about how much it rained this year, and how that will impact their crops, and their ability to feed their families. It's talking to people who are being pursued by enemies looking to do more than just give them a bad day.  It's talking to people who were captured as the spoils of war, enslaved, brutalized, stripped from their home, separated from their families, and exiled from the land God had promised them.  It's talking to missionaries who traveled all over the world, preaching about Jesus, planting churches under harsh conditions, in which they suffered regular poverty, imprisonment, betrayal, and sometimes even death.

Most of us don't have these kind of problems.

Rather, we live in a land of plenty, where one of our biggest problems is deciding which appetizer to order off the menu at Chili's. Few of us have any actual "enemies" that want to take our lives, instead, we have what amounts to drama on Facebook. If we ever leave our present home, our biggest problem is deciding whether or not our next one should have an upgraded hardware and appliances in our new kitchen.  And the biggest struggle some of our church planters in America face is recruiting enough talented musicians to play on a Sunday morning.

I can't help but feel that when the Bible talks about Jesus dealing with our emotional issues, it's doesn't really have in mind the Lord helping people who are suffering from so-called "First World Problems."  

If you are a white, upper-middle class, stay-at-home-mom, whose husband works 80 hours a week, and you are stressed out about whether or not you can afford soccer camp, worried about juggling your hectic schedule, keeping your kids in line, and are struggling about your looks as you stand in line at the grocery store and see pictures of “Photoshopped” women on magazine covers....

I'm sorry to say, I'm not sure there is a lot that Jesus can say to you about these sorta things.

That's why you should probably fire Him as your Therapist.

In fact, I'm pretty sure if Jesus were to talk to you about a lot of these problems you suffer from, He would deal kindly towards you, and in the nicest way possible, He would probably tell you:

"Get over yourself already."

Of course, I have simply highly paraphrased what Jesus would possibly tell you in a theoretical one-on-one sit-down therapy session. He would say it so much better than I ever could. But at the end of the day, what He would say to you pretty much amounts to just that.

Your "inner healing" therapy sessions would be amazingly short.  We probably wouldn't like Jesus for this.

Yet in spite of these things, this has not stopped many preachers from preaching Jesus as your Therapist.  And it's no wonder that so many people flock to hear such a message, because frankly, it appeals to them in a very selfish way.

Jesus the Therapist demands nothing of us, promises to make us feel better about ourselves, and makes our struggles the center of His universe.  And being self-absorbed as we are, we can't help but be drawn to such preaching.

(And many ministries grow amazingly big doing just this! Sadly, they blame God for such growth.)

Honestly, I'm convinced that so much of the emotional baggage we carry around with us has little to do with the complexity of our problems and the challenges we face, but rather, because we have failed to submit ourselves to God's ultimate purposes for this world.  I'm convinced much of the inner struggles we face would disappear almost overnight if we stopped being so self-absorbed and making everything in this world about us, and started making our lives all about God's ultimate purposes for this world.

And notice, I said, God's purposes for this world... not God's purpose for me (there is a difference).

Consider the following verses:
"So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed in Him, 'If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free'" ~ John 8:31-32 (NASB)
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." ~ Ephesians 2:9 (NASB)
God created us as His workmanship, and He has a grand plan for this entire world that He wants us to participate in.  He wants us to go out into all of the world and accomplish His pleasure, build up His kingdom, and to be a blessing to others.  He wants us to take the Gospel to the ends of the Earth, and introduce people to Jesus.

Many of us never seriously think about such things. But, I'm convinced that only when we align our lives with God's purpose for the world, and start giving ourselves over to issues bigger than ourselves, and living as disciples of Jesus Christ, it is only in that we will find the "healing" that so many of us feel we need.  It's only then that the truth will set us free.  And such comes as a result of us entering into a lifestyle in which we follow the teachings of Jesus, and allow God to weave the stuff of His kingdom into the very fiber of our being.

Such only happens when we allow God to form godly character in us, as a direct response to His calling on our lives to be participants in His mission.  In this process of loving God, loving our neighbors, and serving both, we experience inward transformation, and develop a thing called "character."

And when you are put in a situation where you continually cultivate things like love, and where you grow in humility, and you practice forgiving those who harm you... you will gradually learn to "get over" a lot of issues surrounding guilt, shame, regret, feelings of condemnation, and inferiority. In following Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master, it is only then when such shackles will begin to fall off, and it is only then we will begin to experience and enjoy true freedom.

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