Friday, December 15, 2006

Piper on God as our Physician

John Piper's book Desiring God is really ministering to me. On page 247, Piper offers this quote from Daniel Fuller about how God designs a unique life calling for each of us which might be seen as our personalized program for restoration of life. I found it very helpful.
Daniel Fuller uses this picture of patient and doctor to show how the effective missionary avoids the presumption of assisting God:

An analogy for understanding how to live the Christian life without being a legalist is to think of ourselves as being sick and needing a doctor's help in order to get well. Men begin life with a disposition so inclined to evil that Jesus called them "children of hell" (Matthew 23:15).... In Mark 2:17 and elsewhere Jesus likened Himself to a doctor with the task of healing man's sins; He received the name "Jesus" because it was His mission to "save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). The moment we turn from loving things in this world to bank our hope on God and His promises summed up in Jesus Christ, Jesus takes us, as it were, into His clinic to heal us of our hellish dispositions.... True faith means not only being confident that one's sins are forgiven but also means believing God's promises that we will have a happy future through eternity. Or, to revert to the metaphor of medicine and the clinic, we must entrust our sick selves to Christ as the Great Physician, with confidence that He will work until our hellishness is transformed into godliness.

[One] implication to be drawn from the doctor analogy is that while he will prescribe certain general instructions for all his patients to follow, he will also make up individual health regimens for the particular needs of each patient. For example, he may direct some to leave their homeland to go to proclaim the Gospel in a foreign land. There is great temptation in such circumstances for people to revert to the legalism of thinking that they are being heroes for God because they are leaving their homeland to endure the rigors of living in a foreign land [this was Peter's problem]. Those who are directed to do hard jobs for God must remind themselves that these rigors are simply for their health. As these difficulties help them become more like Christ, they will sing a song of praise unto God, and as a result "many will see it and fear and put their trust in the Lord" (Psalm 40:3). People who regard themselves as invalids rather than heroes will make excellent missionaries.

(Daniel Fuller, Gospel and Law: Contrast or Continuum? [Grand Rapids Eerdmans, 1980], pp. 117-19. From a letter to Father Perez in Francis M. DuBose, ed., Classics of Christian Missions [Nashville: Broadman Press, 1979], p. 221 ff.)

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