Sigmund Freud's Dream, Our Reality to Enjoy
It used to be that four tenets ruled most Christians’ church life:
1. Act like you’ve got it together.
2. Isolate yourself.
3. Ministry is programs.
4. Bible reading is for me alone.
This kind of church approach resulted in the entrance of many programs - a weekly newsletter chocked full of calendar events. But a plethora of programs pushed out the work of one-to-one, truth-speaking ministry. What we now call “biblical counseling” left the church, becoming professionalized in private practice. Secular psychology’s model became the model by which Christians heard truth and changed. Need help getting unstuck? Look outside the church - call a therapist, a Christian one - because the church is too busy with programs to help you with your problem. There was never meant to be a discrete practice called “biblical counseling”. It only became discrete when the church bought the lie that secular psychology was superior, and jettisoned the gospel, disbelieving its power. We forgot how good we have it.
Sigmund Freud longed for “centers” of psychological practice, all around the world, where people could receive therapy for their troubles, from practitioners of varying degrees of skill, knowledge and experience. What he longed for had existed for nearly 2,000 years: the church. The church is a new society, structured on surprising mutuality, that’s armed with incomprehensible power. We are a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), tasked with ministering to each other (Eph. 4:11-12), with access to the wisdom of the ages - ours for the asking (James 1:5).
If we believe this, our first question when trouble strikes will not be “what outside specialist can I call for help?”, but 1) which elder or pastor of our church should we involve, and 2) which wise friend in our church should we call? EvFree is not perfect, not even close. But we are growing in living with each other in mercy, that would rightly be called excessive, if we didn’t know about God’s mercy to us. And we are learning to live with each other in grace and truth. We speak truth to sin; we don’t ignore it. But we also speak grace, that pours healing hope over the wounds of sin.
We grow best in a gospel society: where your sinful “stuff” is known and not condoned, but overlayed with lavish mercy; where wisdom combines with real power for change; where you are viewed according to what the Spirit is capable of in you. Sigmund Freud could only dream of what we might enjoy.