Hospital for the Sick?

More than a year ago, someone told me that the “church is a hospital for the sick and not a museum for saints.” Doubtful of what he stated and being intrigued if there is truth in the statement, I just nodded to him to avoid argument and not offend the speaker who claimed to be an evangelical Christian. He even mentioned a Bible passage in Mark 2:17 which says 17On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

At first, I thought he stood on a solid ground when he stated the quote, it being backed up by a Bible verse. Driven by curiosity and finding the simple truth, I researched on the subject and found out interesting facts. This quote was often attributed to Abigail Van Buren whose real name at birth was Pauline Esther Freedman. Van Buren was a personal advice columnist, author, and radio host. She studied journalism and psychology, and in her college days writing in gossip column for her college newspaper.

Having known about the quote attribution and its relation to the Bible verse supposedly supporting it, I do not see any concrete connection that a church is a hospital for the sick. Contextually speaking, the reason why our Lord Jesus Christ said that in Mark 2:17 is to rebuke the religious leaders of their hypocrisy. The metaphor He mentioned is personal and not a place, He being the Great Physician of physical and spiritual infirmities.

The quote infers that a church is a place as it contrasts with a museum, a place. If that is the case, then when a person goes to the church, he or she in fact admitting he or she is indeed spiritually sick and needs a hospital for treatment. When he or she is healed already, he or she does not need the hospital anymore and can stop going to it.

Ephesians 1:22-23 says “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Here, the church is spoken of as a body of sinners-saved-by-grace believers whose head is Christ. The church is a living congregation of “healed sinners” whose primary purpose is to worship and glorify God. It is never a place, let alone never a hospital for unrepentant and unhealed sinners.


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