And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad (Acts 26:24).
This isn’t something I’m dealing with currently. It’s just something that occurred to me as a topic I should write about.
As a Christian, have you ever had your mental health challenged because of your faith? For example, does the idea of speaking to God and getting a response illicit accusations? What about your stance on certain issues of sin? What about dedicating your life to Jesus in general? For the worldly, being a Christian seems foolish.
Of course, this is no strange thing. We expect this. Jesus said that the world loves its own, but because we are not of the world, the world will hate us. The scriptures teach us that the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God.
True, but what can we say about this accusation? Do we feel ashamed and shy away from challenges to our mental health? We don’t have to.
What is sin if not a mental health condition?
Take addictions, sexual confusion and perversions, promiscuity, for example. Obviously to us, these are mental health issues. The same can be said for anger, an anxious nature, a depressed nature, covetousness, and even those subtle sins like refusing to do what God wants at any given time. How is the latter true? If we are perfectly sound mentally, we would hear God–the most powerful being there is–and do what He says.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2).
Though we might be accused of being mentally-ill, the reality is this: The world is insane. The world does things that destroy themselves and others, and often enjoys doing these things. The world glorifies these things. It’s as if being mentally ill makes you a more profound person. That is true insanity. Sin brings death–and the world loves it.
The wisdom of God does not bring death. It brings life. It brings knowledge of the Lord, Jesus that can transform our natures from illness to wellness.
Christian, you are not mentally ill. The world is. Aren’t we all of the world though? We are all born sinful. We are all sick. The distinction is Jesus and His grace towards those who love Him. So, don’t forget compassion and humility, but recognize that following Jesus is the most sane thing a person can do. However, it is something given to us, not because we are better than the world, but because God is good.
Now, there is a difficulty many of us Christians have to go through as we begin this transformation of mental illness to mental wellness in Jesus Christ.
As we begin to see ourselves and the world truthfully, we can become overwhelmed. We can become very fearful, sorrowful, and tempted to see everything in this world as meaningless and vain. We can feel as if battling our sin is a vain pursuit. We can feel as if communicating the gospel is in vain. As we suffer and see the wicked prosper, we might become discouraged.
There is some productivity to a “godly sorrow” that works repentance. However, as we continue seeking Jesus He will continue to free our minds from unproductive sorrows that often result from awakening to the true mental depravity of this world and ourselves. We learn to trust in Him more and rejoice in the things of the coming Kingdom of Heaven.
What’s the take-away here?
There is a learning that makes people insane, and that is the knowledge of this world. Seeking Jesus and the promises of the gospel that will renew our minds is not madness. It is wellness that gets to the real root of our problems and heals us from the inside out. Let the worldly call you crazy, because we know better. Don’t let the insanity of this world consume you. Don’t let awareness of your lingering struggles cause you to give up. We all have something we struggle against, but there is freedom promised in the gospel.
Jesus doesn’t just promise to forgive us then leave us sick. He makes us whole. Grace, which is the undeserved favor of God, will teach us how to escape the corruptions of our minds and of this world so that we can find peace, love, joy, and all fruits of the Spirit — the fruits of mental-wellness — the fruits of life.
An article that offers more clarification and encourages compassion: Remembering Compassion