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Spiritual health check up time

MAYBE IT is the result of recovering from open heart surgery, but I wonder how Adam felt about having his chest ripped open so God could take a rib to make his helper.

This story in Genesis 2 teaches us that from the very beginning a man was not supposed to go it alone. However as a general rule most Australian men try to live life independently, avoiding asking for help or seeking advice.

We men know what’s wrong with us without going to a doctor. When I felt the chest pains I knew I just needed more exercise.

It was a couple of months before I went to ask my doctor if my diagnosis was accurate. It seems I was just in time. Even after being told that I should have an angiogram to see what was wrong, I went and mowed the lawn two days before going into hospital. I wasn’t an invalid; I didn’t need a helper.

Some years ago I journeyed with a father whose daughter had been killed in an horrific accident. A few weeks after the funeral he was having trouble sleeping and it seemed to me he was becoming depressed. I suggested that he visit his doctor and see if there was something the doctor could do that might help. He said, “No, I just need to be strong”.

I suggested that if he had broken his leg he would never have suggested that he should not have it splinted, that he should just be strong. What had happened to him was far more devastating than a broken leg. Why not get some professional help to support him through this experience.

Why is it that Australian men in particular will not accept the support of other people, even close family?

There is something spiritually unhealthy about that.

It is clear that humans were never solitary creatures. There are any number of biblical pointers to the idea that we need one another.

Genesis 1 says that we are created in the image of God and Christians believe that God is known to us as three in one, God in community.

Therefore, maybe we too are created to be in community with God and with one another.

Genesis 2:18 says, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner’. ”

Paul speaks about the church as community. In 1 Corinthians 12:27 Paul says, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it”.

Our identity in Christ is found within the body of Christ, the Church, and in that community we find our true individual identity.

Spiritually healthy people know that the journey of faith must be made in fellowship with others.

Every Christian should seek out a companion for their faith journey.

We need someone who will call us to account; someone who will encourage us; someone who will share our joys and our sorrows. It may be a spouse, a minister, a close friend in your church or another church.
We cannot grow as Christian learners on our own.

This also means that the gathering together of Christians as congregations should be a community in which every person can find support, encouragement, hope, challenge and the positive nurturing that we become spiritually healthy and grow in the fullness of Jesus Christ.

One of the positive signs of hope for men is the growing formation of Men’s Sheds. Many are started by churches, but some are simply community based initiatives offering a welcoming place where men are able to talk with and support one another.

I think they are places where real physical, emotional and spiritual health can be encouraged.

This month I encourage all men to take stock of their own spiritual health. If you are trying to go it alone and diagnose your own health, either physical or spiritual, I urge you to find the courage to seek the companionship of someone else, a helper. If you can’t think of anyone else to speak with about these things, contact your local minister and make a time for a spiritual health check.