In preparing for a Biblical Counseling Conference, I stumbled upon a blog from a woman who had been raised in a fundamentalist Christian Church. In reading her experiences as well as some experiences of others who have been raised in a fundamentalist church, I am grieved by how many people who are “put off” by supposed “Biblical counseling” and even moreso grieved at the misuse and abuse of God’s Word, especially by fundamentalism Christianity. Let me share a few thoughts on how, I believe, true Biblical Counseling reflects Christ:
1. True Biblical Counseling is administered by humble individuals who are willing to come alongside the sufferer as a fellow sufferer. Philippians 2 reminds us how Christ humbled himself, became like us, and walked with us on our level. He did not stand above us to condemn us (even though we deserve this), but came along side of us, even becoming a servant and considering us better than himself. In humility, there is listening more than advising. In humility, there is love for the person and not judgment over the person. In humility, there is a willingness to enter the person’s world. In humility, there is also biblical instruction, but the instruction is always clothed in love.
2. True Biblical Counseling is about counseling God’s Word as it is intended. God’s Word is not a set of rules and standards in which we must live so that God will be pleased with us. Therefore we must not use God’s Word in such a way (the 10 Commandments were to show how salvation can only come from God and not from obedience to the law). The Scriptures are God’s inerrant & inspired Word that share how a holy, loving, and righteous God demonstrates His grace (unmerited favor) on us through Christ. That through faith, we may have a relationship with Him. Though we pursue Christ-likeness, this can only be achieved by Him working in us through His grace and Spirit, and not through heart-less actions of obedience. God’s Word must be used in Biblical Counseling, but it must not be used as a book of standards to force upon people, but as God’s book which reveals His holy character and abundant love to us so that we may be in relationship to Him through grace, by faith.
3. True Biblical Counseling is not simply about sharing God’s Word, but it is about the manner in which it is shared. When we look at the life of Christ and his interactions with people and sufferers, we see several things: 1) His interactions with those who were seeking God (Zaccheus, Peter, Mary (who washed his feet), etc.), involved in sin (Woman at the Well) and even those who have been caught in sin (woman caught in adultery) as compassionate and loving. Yet, at the same time, 2) though Jesus made himself available to the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law, and He even ate with them at times, his harshest words were for them…for the self-righteous who were not compassionate and loving towards others and who saw His Word as a Law to uphold to earn the favor of God. In counseling, most people who enter our offices or churches are those who are involved in sin. Yet they are also seeking God (Why else would they come to a biblical counselor?). Therefore, our counsel must be clothed in compassion & love.
These are only some thoughts on how Biblical Counseling must also be Christ-reflecting. Stay tuned for Christ-Reflecting Biblical Counseling: Part 2 for more thoughts. What would you add or challenge to these thoughts?