The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Tag: church

Letter #8: You’re a Patient, Not a Physician

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for not being too upset by my last letter. I do hope it didn’t sound like I was being “holier than thou” or “attacking” you. Honestly, if I was attacking anyone it was myself.

I so badly want to help you avoid many of the pitfalls I dove head-first into while in seminary…especially the endless void of pride. There is actually one simple truth that really helped me combat pride during my seminarian years…

skeptical-doctorYou’re a patient…not a physician.

Over time, I noticed that I could tell when pride was beginning to swell within my heart because I would put myself in the position of a physician. I would look at the world of Christendom, diagnosing all the ills I saw and proudly proclaiming my miracle prescriptions that I just knew would bring healing!

How pompous I could be?!?! I looked down my nose at local churches and at pastors in the trenches of ministry…and from the safe, lofty heights of academia I would point out their infected theology and diseased practices. All the while, I was so blind that I could not see I was only being part of the problem…not the solution.

I was acting like a physician…yet I was truly a patient.

In other words, I was not seeing myself as part of the body of Christ! I was separate somehow. The body was sick, but not me…I was God’s gift to “fix” the body! Ha!

We are not physicians, Jesus is! He is the great physician! We are part of the body in need of his healing.

The only way I was able to see this was to actually be a part of the body. The Lord convicted me of safely distancing myself from the local church, and I knew I had to plunge in and become a part of it.

Jonathan, I would highly encourage you to be an active member of a local congregation.

Serve within the body…teach within the body if you can! Teaching should humble you and drive you to your knees as you see your own feebleness/inability and your need for Christ’s sufficiency! Teaching should help you see yourself as a patient in need of Jesus’ miraculous healing work!

It becomes very difficult to criticize the church when you see that you are a part of its brokenness.

I’m not saying there is no room for critiquing the church (perhaps I’ll write about that later), but I am saying that the posture from which you critique it transforms when you are a member of the body instead of trying to be a master over and against it.

Don’t be an arrogant seminarian who thinks he is the “Doctor” the church needs. There are enough of those. Swallow that bitter pill of pride and remember you are a part of the church that needs healing…you are broken too.

You’re a patient…not a physician.

Grace and Peace,


*To know/understand the premise behind these letters please click here.


Letter #2: Seminary is about the Church

church1-150x150Dear Jonathan,

I am so thankful to hear about your seminary search process thus far…praying with your wife, family, and friends is a great place to begin. This will definitely help you to keep your focus on Jesus like I talked about in my last letter. However, right after I placed that letter in the mail I felt as though I left out one key thought…

Seminary is about Jesus, but seminary is also about the Church.

These two thoughts should naturally go together for the Church is the bride of Christ. They are inseparably joined, for he is the head and the Church is the body! It is ironic how often we try to make Jesus divorce his bride or we try to sentence him to decapitation! What I mean is this…we often think of pursuing Jesus as a private matter that in no way involves the Church.

I did not mean to encourage such a pursuit in my last letter. Seminary is in not merely about your private relationship with Christ becoming richer and richer. Yes…that needs to happen, but to what end? Why has God called you to seminary? I can promise you this…it is not ultimately for yourself!

You are headed to seminary in service of the Lord and his Church! You are being equipped so that you might equip the Church for the work of the ministry! Seminary should not have a selfish goal, but one that is sacrificially selfless. I have watched so many seminarians gorge themselves on the deep truths of Scripture only to become fattened with pride. To my shame, I experienced the same thing at different parts of my seminarian journey.

So what can be done? I think the greatest thing you can do to fight against knowledge that puffs up is to immediately use the knowledge for the purpose for which you are receiving it. In other words…share it! Teach it! Spread it!

Unshared truth turns toxic!

Don’t gorge yourself on truth! As you consume it, share it! Attempting to teach (in whatever capacity) within the local church will keep you humble, as teaching is no easy task. It will also keep your goal before you. You will be constantly reminded that you are not at seminary merely for yourself, but you are there for the Church. Jesus loves his bride…you should too!

Seminary is about the Church.

Grace and Peace,


*To know/understand the premise behind these letters please click here.

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