Summary: The sixth in this series. Inspired by the book "Why Churches Die" by Mac Brunson & Ergun Caner. Thank you men!
#6 – Spiritual Hypochondria
(Begin with reading the story of “Clara” from the book “Why Churches die.” Pages 185-190. Once again, I’ll say that I am grateful for Dr. Brunson and Dr. Caner’s book. It is an incredible resource from which this series has, by design, been taken)
* Think about that term, “A spiritual hypochondriac.” We know that a medical hypochondriac is one who believes they are ill, sick, and even dying from all types of ailments. Every new thing they encounter leads them to believe their condition is worsening and maybe grave, if not terminal. In this age of miracle drugs, I suggest they have pill for everything. The medical community believes this to be a psychological issue because the symptoms are all in the victim’s head.
* Conversely, the disease of spiritual hypochondria is a heart issue. Those afflicted with this condition are only happy when they are miserable. They move from drama to drama, crisis to crisis, burden to burden, and problem to problem. At first, they friends and fellow church members try to be sympathetic, but soon they are discovered and those friends realize this is an affliction. The symptoms are no joy, no satisfaction, no peace, and like Clara, a complaint department unto themselves.
* As a personal observation, I have watched as people quietly feel sorry this person. Generally, people want to help, but like so many diseases, there can be no cure until the person who is ill recognizes it & wants to be well.
* A good case can be made that a comrade of Paul’s had this disease. The man’s name is Demas. Demas was mentioned 3 times in Paul’s letters. The first time as a fellow worker, the second time we just find his name, and the third time Paul says, “Demas has deserted me because he loved the world.” Whereas this case could be made, I suspect the stronger case for the one who is afflicted with this spiritual condition would be the Children of Israel coming out of Egypt. Turn with me to Numbers 11.
* When the chapter opens, it gives us a snapshot of spiritual hypochondriac in mass. Think about this, the people complained about the hardships they had. “How quickly we forget?!” On a journey led by the Lord, foot provided by the Lord, with everything they need coming from the Lord and they are in hardship? It would seem (as we’ll later discover) that they forgot the conditions in which their people had lived for 400 years.
* When people in the church today complain because things are never good enough to please them, perhaps they are descendants of the Children of Israel. We all better recognize and become glad that others don’t respond like God responded. He responded in fiery anger.
* Let me offer 3 thoughts to give this some flesh;
1. The Devastating Symptoms – What are some of the signs of SH?
a. They are unhappy about EVERYTHING – Have you seriously studied the Children of Israel’s exodus? Nothing made them happy.
* You have heard it said of some Baptist that the “Lord himself could show up and they would find something wrong with it.” God did show up for the children of Israel with a cloud by day, pillar of fire by night, water from the rock, and many to eat; still, they could find reason to be upset.
b. They must have a justification for their unhappiness – To accomplish this, they must turn a blind eye to God’s provision and blessing. When God is visibly good to them, like Clara, they must dig around and unearth something which makes it all about them.
c. They are all about themselves- Now, we can switch gears and return to Demas (if you’re tired of picking on the Children of Israel. Think about the reason Demas deserted Paul and compare to the multitudes of people who have walked away today and you’ll discover a similarity. This is that people today are, in large measure made in the image of a Demas.
d. They are always looking backward instead of forward - God’s call is for us to March onward and upward, not backward or downward. The SH is the big fan of bringing up the past when it suits his or her agenda. Yesterday is always remembered better at a distance. Can you believe these people actually ASKED or WANTED to go back into Pharaoh’s service as captives and slaves? The desired the familiar over the fantastic.
2. The Dynamic Spread – I call this a “dynamic” spread because this condition spreads like wildfire. It can be dynamic to watch and certainly has dynamic consequence. Look in Numbers 11 and see; the complaining started in verse 1, by verse 4 it grows to contemptible people, then by verse 10 it infects “family after family”, and ultimately the preacher (Moses) gets a case of it and carries it to God. (Read verses 11-15)