By Jim Grinnell
People care about the hurting in our society for many different reasons. Some care because they are grateful for their own blessings, and as a response want to help others. For some, caring is a matter of social justice. In the case of mental illness, many care because an immediate family member or close relative has been affected by a mental illness.
Like me, some of you may have wondered, “Where are the mentally ill in the Bible?” “How does the Christian faith uniquely inform and guide me as I seek to care about the person we love with a mental illness?” The answer is in I Corinthians 12:21-26. In this passage, the Apostle Paul compares the Body of Christ (the church) to the human body…
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
In this passage, several ways that God sees things become clear:
- The church desperately needs its “weaker members,” and cannot say, “I have no need of you!”
- God recognizes that some members require “more care” to have the “same care” (level of dignity) as other members…
- We are to “further clothe” (more intensely support) the weaker members…
- The weaker member is indispensable to God and the church!
These great truths are captured and sealed by Christ’s own words: “When you’ve done it to one of the least of these, you’ve done it to Me” (Matthew 25:40b). Bright Tomorrows wants to help individual churches develop “Circles of Care” around the people who have a mental illness among them. Please keep us in your prayers as we develop the tools to make this goal a reality!
JIM GRINNELL is the Vice-President of Bright Tomorrows. Jim is a pastor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He attended ORU where he obtained a Master of Divinity degree and later OSU where he also obtained a Master of Science degree in Family Relations. He is a past member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Jim also is certified as a sex therapist with the American Board of Christian Sex Therapists. Jim is a certified sex addiction specialist with IACSAS, the International Association of Clinical Sex Addiction Specialists.