The Church as a Hospital
God gives us several metaphors relating to His church. One of those is a comparison to a body. Each person in a local church has a function and a role, similar to how a body has different parts with different functions and roles. God also compares the church to a family. One metaphor that God didn’t use is one that I think is a very good one and that is the comparison of the church to a hospital. That is probably because hospitals weren’t really “invented” at the writing of the New Testament. However, a hospital is a very good word to describe what the church should be.
A hospital is a place where sick people come to get better; people of all different backgrounds and people with all different levels of “illness”. The staff of a hospital is composed of people who have various levels of “training” as to how to help someone recover from their illness or disease. Yet, the staff of the hospital is also always still learning and can be affected by the situations and circumstances in their lives. The staff is human and definitely not perfect. People come to a hospital with the expectation of getting better and getting help. People also come to a hospital without pretending that they are actually better than they are.
But the model for the American church is often not like a hospital. What people tend to do when they go to church is to pretend that everything is perfect; that they are not hurting in any way. Could you imagine going to the ER with a gaping wound or a searing pain and when asked, “what’s wrong” you would say, “nothing…I’m fine”. That’s not how it works. Conversely, there are churches who have people show up on their “doorstep” and the church asks the “patients” to get better before they can enter the church. That’s not how it is supposed to work either.
The way it is supposed to work is that the patients and the staff work together, under the authority of the “Great Physician”, Jesus Christ, to help one another “get better”; not necessarily “better behaved” but to develop and grow a relationship with Jesus and to help one another on that path and process. That’s how a church should be like a hospital…oh yeah, the church also doesn’t charge hundreds of dollars for a seat!