Let the Chapel Doors Swing Open Wide
The church is, if anything, a motley crew. It began among prostitutes, tax collectors, slaves, and sinners. At least those were the titles that others gave. Jesus saw something else in them, in us. He saw beloved image bearers of God; sons and daughters who were created to join him in his kingdom and mission to rescue the world. He saw in blue-collar fishermen, fishers of men.
It’s what makes the church beautiful — Jesus formed a community of broken but redeemed people that continues his welcome to all, that sees in all the Image of God and affirms that all are invited into the rich life of the Kingdom of God. The chapel doors swing open wide to the world. All are welcomed, all are loved, all are invited by God to join in his kingdom and mission.
And ALL can be a life-changing word. It goes places others don’t.
The National Institute for Mental Health found that 25% of Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental illness in a given year (even those that go to church). One of four. Think about that next time you're sitting in a pew at church with more than four people.
But we’re not just talking about “them,” are we? Mental illness is not just an “out there” problem. We all have our wrestling matches: anxious thoughts, depressed moods, past trauma that continues to hurt, addictions, shame. The problem is that the world is not as it should be; we are not as we should be.
All of us.
And the church, filled with us — broken, grace-given, Spirit-filled people — stands in a perfect place to offer the acceptance, healing, love and empowerment of Jesus to all of us wrestling with minds that are not as they should be.
Mental illness can easily inflict a silence over our conversations, reinforcing fear and shame. The church can break that deafening silence, so that as we encounter each other, we need not:
- fear rejection.
- fear that mental illness is not a real affliction.
- fear that we need to fix ourselves before coming to and belonging with a community.
- fear that we need to pretend we have it all together.
- fearing that we are alone in our struggles.
Instead, the church can swing wide the door with words that break the silence, break the stigma, and break the fear and shame by announcing that:
- we are all broken but loved.
- mental illness is real and hurts people, but does not have the final word
- Jesus offers healing through treatment (whether that be insulin for diabetes, or counseling or SSRI’s for depression) and through the acceptance, love and community of his church.
We all, by the power of God, have gifts to give to the world, have a place in the kingdom and in the mission of God.
So what can this look like?
It looks like starting the conversation. Like making a space for all to trade fear and shame for belonging and healing.
Every 3rd Tuesday of the month Ethos hosts Share Gathering at the Cannery. Share Gathering is a place to share and connect around your story, particularly when it comes to mental health. It is a place to ask tough questions and seek truth as a community. It is a place to belong.
You are not alone. We would love to have you.
If you'd like to learn more about Share Gathering, or just talk, feel free to reach out to Adam or Colton:
Adam Graham. | Colton Mulligan.