May 15, 2005 John 16:5-11
“Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
When I went to the Seminary we had to take a class on counseling. In it we learned the basics of how to try and help people through their problems through communication and the ability to talk. Whereas the class was helpful in learning the art of communication, in some senses I felt a little messed up by it all. It seemed like two farmers sitting beside a pile of manure.
One says to the other, “how did the manure get here?”
The other says, “I think Bessie left it here.”
“It looks kind of nasty.”
“It don’t smell too good either.”
“Yea, I wonder what she’s been eatin.”
“Let’s examine her food. We’ll sample it and try to change it to make the manure more healthy lookin.”
“Yeah, then we can continue to examine this to see if it can smell better.”
So they go off to try and deal the source of the manure, but never actually take the shovel and clean it up.
My point is that you can counsel and counsel and talk about the how and the why of your actions and feelings, but ultimately, that won’t do the deep cleaning. There are many mental problems that do need counseling and also need specially prescribed drugs - to help people straighten out their thinking. It does work when it comes to that. Yet I also believe that this has now progressed to the point that psychology and counseling has become the cure all for everything. Why is the man attracted to children? Get a counselor to straighten him out. Why did the boy decide to attack his parents with a knife? Let’s get a counselor and find out. Ok. Then what? Do the drugs always work? Does the counseling always provide a solution? Even if the person realizes how his or her thinking was messed up, that doesn’t address a deeper need - for repentance and faith. If I dismiss every thought and action as an illness that drugs or counseling can cure, I’m not getting to the deeper issues of sin and grace. We need these issues not just from a mental aspect, but more importantly from a spiritual aspect.
Why do I bring this up? In today’s text, on this Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit is called a “Counselor.” That does not mean He’s here to examine our minds and just get us to understand our feelings. He’s not here to fix our brains. He’s here to mend our souls and our hearts. The disciples had just had their hearts broken. Jesus told them that He was leaving them - by dying on a cross and then ascending into heaven. The disciples were thinking to themselves, “how could this be? How will we be able to survive without our Teacher, our Mentor, our Savior, and our Friend? This simple statement struck them at their very hearts and souls. They felt like Jesus was deserting them. That’s when Jesus promised - not a miracle drug - or a Dr. Phil or an Oprah - but the Holy Spirit - to help them through the rest of their lives “without” Jesus. He would provide the “Counseling.”