I was never comfortable with the analogy of the Church being likened to a hospital. Although I had heard the analogy often repeated in one form or another for many years, the idea that we were all collectively suffering from a chronic illness was one of uneasiness [dis-ease?]. It wasn’t so much the illness that was the problem from the analogy standpoint, but rather the subtle implication that this state of illness will and must continue until some uncertain point in the future. To make matters worst, my experience with modern medicine in the western world had always been that of diagnosing and treating symptoms—never healing. Physicians are generally taught how to diagnose, treat, and to some degree prevent sickness. However, because preventative medicine is substantially less lucrative, 90% of the focus in modern medicine appears to be in diagnosing and treating symptoms. No physicians that I know ever healed.
I knew that there was a sin problem [diagnosis] but I wasn’t interested in the symptoms of my sins being treated—I wanted healing from my sin; and even more so I wanted prevention from any future infection.
An elder pointed out to me yesterday the fact that though he or she may have been sick at one time, not everyone in the hospital is currently sick! In fact, the physicians, nurses, aides, techs, and even the custodial staff and receptionists make every effort to avoid sickness while working inside of the hospital to help the patients who are currently sick.
With this new thought, my disdain for the analogy ended. Whereas before I saw only the satanic delusion of chronic sin, the analogy now clearly mandates that we do not have to be lifelong patients. The illness does not have to be unto death. When once we have been healed, we must make every effort to avoid future contamination especially while working to help those who are currently sick. “Go, and sin no more” are the words of the Great Physician. Unlike the approach of modern medicine, however, we cannot continue to focus 90% of our attention on diagnosing and treating symptoms. We waste such precious time discussing and debating the symptoms of sin while neglecting the root cause. In this antitypical Day of Atonement, I believe we must make the switch in our message to an emphasis on healing and prevention.
Consider, for example, the spirit of competition along with one of the most heinous forms of idolatry—sport. When entertaining this spirit, do you think the body is edified? What if, over time, the individual cells adopt the message that they must compete for the preeminence? Imagine cells in diverse parts of the body responding to the message to compete with each other in order to “win”. The “winning” cells get their first place trophy for growing the biggest and the fastest and they are instantly recognized for their outstanding performance. I suspect that more often than not, their performance would be so outstanding that it would result in their collective removal from the body via radiation or surgery and the physicians would have the audacity to declare the patient free—for a time. Is our church body free of cancer?