Summary: An exhortation to receive the spiritually weak and ill into the church.
I came to the great state of Texas from the great state of South Carolina after having been educated in the great state of North Carolina. While in the Carolinas and traveling to Texas through, lest any be offended, four other great states I found something more common than kudzu though less common than grits.
Baptist hospitals seemed to be everywhere. I admit that since I am a Baptist and I work at a hospital they may have just stood out because of that, but there were quite a few around to stand out. Now, how much Baptist is left in them since they were built, I do not know. There are colleges once built or at least heavily funded by Baptists that should remove Baptist from their name since they teach things contrary to Christianity let alone Baptist distinctives. Therefore, there may be some Baptist hospitals that perform abortions, give birth control to teenagers without parental knowledge and other non-Baptistic practices. However, it is good that Baptists saw a need and endeavored to fulfill that need in the name of Christ.
Hospitals fulfill a multitude of functions from outpatient care to short and long term inpatient care. They have many services and personnel to treat a patient no matter what their illness might be as well as to give support and education to loved ones of the patients. They have many rooms. No matter what the primary specialty of a hospital they all have some ability to provide emergency care. They have emergency rooms or ERs.
I am not sure who it was, but one of my mentors spoke often of the Church as being a hospital. This concept goes along with Christ’s teaching that the sick need a physician not the healthy. (Mark 2:17,Luke 5:31)
Sin is a sexually transmitted terminal disease. Non-Christians suffer heavily from its effects. Christians still carry it in remission, but can have severe outbreaks of the disease suffering great pain and heartbreak until repentance, confession and the filling of the Holy Spirit cleanses wounds and forces it back into remission.
The Non-Christian will suffer two deaths from the disease. While it is not spiritually deadly for the Christian, it can wreak havoc and rob him of the fellowship and blessings he so desperately needs in this world. The complete cure will come when we cross over into glory be that by the undertaker or the upper taker.
Therefore the church is really a hospital and to be an effective one it needs several ERs. Indeed, it should never open its doors unless it has an Emmanuel Room. If God is not present, it is a morgue not a hospital. Unless the Great Physician is in charge there will be no healing of soul, body, spirit, or emotions. The building may be dedicated to Him. There may be much talk about Him and His prowess amidst great public relations campaigns to attract visitors. However, if He is not present it is only talk and a vain flurry of activity.
Matt 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (KJV) Isa. 7:14
The glory of the Gospel, even the very power of the Church, is the fact that God became manifest in the flesh so that He could be with us in a form our feeble flesh could understand. He had to be with us in the flesh to die for us. Now, that the price has been paid by the only acceptable sacrifice, He can live in us as His temple, and not buildings.
In order for the building to be a hospital, there must be people in that hospital with God present with them through the indwelling of the eternal Godhead. Without that it matters not how large or beautiful you make the building, it will not be a hospital because the main ER will be empty and only death will abide there.
If the main ER is properly staffed the next ER the church must have is the Evangelization Room. Earlier, I said that sin is a sexually transmitted terminal disease. It symptoms vary in degree and many may live their whole life not realizing that it is in them. They are like many people who you see one day and they look healthy and they would even tell you that they feel good and the next day you read their obituary.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day thought they were healthy and did not come to Him for healing. Those who had the ravages of the disease and felt its pain came looking to Him for healing. The woman at the well knew she had a problem, but she did not know there was a cure until the Great Physician made a house call. She went away healed. The rich young ruler came in for a yearly check up only to find that he was not as healthy as he thought and did not like the prescription. He went away sick unto death.