In his little book Visit the Sick Brian Croft challenges us to a commitment to minister to the sick. I think for many Christians this might not at first glance be a welcome book. With the pace of life being what it is and with all the other demands on church leaders one more thing to think about or to move up the priority list might seem overwhelming or like an unwelcome burden.
Yet in this very small book (you can read it in an hour or two) Pastor Croft gives such a convincing challenge that all readers should feel not only convicted about the need for such a ministry (we already know its important in our minds at least) but also encouraged by the power of such a ministry.
He points both to the Biblical storyline; beginning with a creation where sickness was absent and ending with a restored creation where once again sickness is only a memory. Along the way we learn about Jesus’ commitment to the sick and the churches commitment to the sick. Several times in the book he also points to the churches history of caring for the sick, Richard Baxter for example. The remainder of the book contains some very practical and helpful advice on how to go about this ministry. I recommend this book very highly.
However it also left me wondering. Why do we need such a book? Why doesn’t the ministry to the sick in the Bible jump out to us. Is it the modern church conviction that ministry is for the ministers? That the Pastor is to do all the work of the ministry? Maybe partly. Is it just the busyness of life, that there simply is not time? Is it that we are so self-absorbed that we simply are unable to care about others? I think that’s closer to home. But I think another reason is that we fear the reminder of our own mortality. Some of us are afraid to die, even Christians are sometimes afraid of death. And those who are sick remind us that eventually we will get die.
As I read this book I felt the need for assurance in this Christian life. We who minister must minister from a place of assurance, but we also need to communicate assurance to those sick believers who are in need of assurance (unless we are not convinced they are believers).
PS - I want to offer some public thanks to the guys at Standing on Shoulders (http://standingonshoulders.net/) who gave this book away on their website. I was pleased to win it because I had honestly never won any drawing before and then I was pleased with the quality of the book. Thanks guys.