Christian Counseling or Counseling in Christ?

Firstly, what is Christian counseling? Typically, ‘Christian counseling’ offers therapeutic interventions by a therapist who subscribes to the Christian faith. Reference may be made to the Bible and godly principles however a Christian therapist is trained to assess, analyze, utilize treatment modals, and maintain ongoing notes of a client’s history, presenting problems, coping skills, and treatment goals. Christian therapists are professionals that will employ techniques from various psychologists and psychiatrists to address grief, anxiety, depression, and averse or addictive behaviors. (Note: someone suicidal or homicidal requires immediate crisis intervention at the closest facility).

When the Apostle Paul declared, “Mark this, there will be terrible times in the last days”, he was not exaggerating, he was warning. Believers in Christ are living in those ‘terrible times’ and few are spared from the ravages of sin and the grief brought through others’ sins upon us, physical disease, great personal loss, and deprivation. Many of us find ourselves facing emotional pain and confusion. We belief in God, we go to church yet our lives become surprisingly ruined by calamity. Will Christian counseling help? What could be wrong with Christian counseling?

Today much of ‘Christian counseling’ is a misnomer, “a wrong or inaccurate name or designation”. What a Christian in crisis needs is counseling in Christ.

For the believer in Jesus, every painful upheaval, every fiery arrow, every fearful precipice, brings us to critical crossroads. Suffering can deeply challenge our faith and force us to reaffirm.
Do we believe?

  • that the Lord knows every minute detail of our situation and pain and understands every aspect?
  • that He foresaw every calamity and perhaps orchestrated the trial?  If our lives belong to Him, it is He alone who can lower the hedges of our life.  Do we believe that the Lord is sovereign,  with full control and authority over every power in heaven and on earth?
  • that, sovereign and all powerful, God alone can make our enemies His servants?  Do we believe that God can bring healing to deep wounds and deliver us from every snare?
  • that the power of the cross, the blood of Christ, cleanses us from every sin?  And moreover, avails to us His indwelling Holy Spirit with power to break every curse, loose every chain, and overcome spiritual and fleshly bondage?
  • that we are chosen by Him, His ‘treasured possession’ and that He truly loves us?

What do we believe?

The critical question at junctures of suffering and confusion is this: Are we determined to empower the flesh or defer to a living faith in the power of God?

“Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power.” (Proverbs 8:14)

The Lord has no need to assess the problem, explore our family background, or development treatment options. He is not interested in certificates or diplomas – He declares “Jesus the power and wisdom of God”. “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? …For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom…” (I Corinthians 1:20-25). When we leave a counseling session, having poured out our emotions, described the pain, and handed over a hefty hourly fee have we found enlightenment, living waters, an anointing upon us…true power to heal and deliver?

Will we find relief in the next session? When will the ‘waters part’ for deliverance? What will we gain by unraveling quagmires of the past and explore the depths of our “exceedingly deceitful heart” which is “beyond cure, who can understand it?” Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with paying someone to listen to us and offer coping skills to lessen our pain. We may feel better, but no amount of money spent on clever interventions in timed sessions can bring about the presence, the power and deliverance of Holy Spirit.

As followers of Christ, God’s unchanging purpose is to “conform us to the likeness of His Son”. This is our destiny. There is no alternative for the Body of Christ – we will suffer in this world – but unlike those in the world, our suffering is appointed to bring about greater revelations of God and His power to deliver.

Christian counseling is a business that arose to address what is lacking in the Body of Christ – the anointed ministry of “iron sharpening iron”. Are we, the church, just too busy? Are we knit together with a body of believers? Have we come under the Lord’s appointed authorities – pastors, elders, deacons? This is the heart of Christ, that we as His Body “be brought into complete unity”. He commands, “Love one another. As I loved you, so you must love one another.” We are given gifts through the Holy Spirit – the Lord’s indwelling power and anointing. We have access to God’s throne for discernment and wisdom. It is God’s will that His Body minister to one another, receiving from Christ and ministering outward to our brethren. We are called to allay each other’s fears, encourage, exhort, stand alongside through dark storms…counseling each other in the power of Christ. Even the weakest vessel shut in with God, is mightier than a world power.

There is a place for doctors and professionals but there are times of confusion, turmoil, heartache and spiritual attack where God’s word states and demonstrates that, “The help of man is worthless.” That may seem offensive but in His exclusive claim over us as our Lord and Master, He calls us to trust in Him completely. Faith does not build our flesh but systematically kills it, a painful process that will cost us but lead to supernatural victory.

“This is what the Lord says, ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)

  • Paths of untimed prayer, shut in with God with determination to wait upon Him and hear from Him.  The flesh likes control, but the Lord may call us to all night prayer, a meeting that may hold eternal value and reward.
  • Paths that open the Word of God as we prayerfully pore through, eagerly anticipating the ‘Wonderful Counselor’ to open up living waters into our soul.
  • Paths of deliberate praise and worship, even during emotional grief and turmoil.  The sacrifice of praise is a high expression of faith in God’s deliverance, even before it arrives.

In these ‘terrible times’ there is a great need for anointed servants of Christ, those prepared from the prayer closet and diligent study of God’s word with a burden to minister. We can find our very heartache, grievous loss even devastation in the Bible and also see there God’s power to heal, restore and renew. He longs to show Himself strong in our lives as we trust in Him. I pray we begin to understand the authority of God, the power of the cross, and the supernatural counsel of the Holy Spirit. As He breathes His Life upon us, may we glorify Him by serving others with the counsel of Christ.

There is no higher calling.

lazaraus-tomb

“Lazarus, come forth!”

Let us also come forth to Christ and go forth to speak life to one another.

 

(Disclaimer:  this website does not provide medical or psychiatric advice.  It is intended to provide spiritual inspiration and is not a substitute for medical or psychiatric advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the advice of a medical professional before changing or neglecting necessary treatment.)

6 thoughts on “Christian Counseling or Counseling in Christ?

  1. I have one big problem with using that term, “Christian Counseling”. Most of those I have seen and met calling themselves that have no actual credential IN counseling or psychology. They act as unregulated practitioners of patient care. I’m not suggesting their motives are all impure, but it provides a means to profit financially without having to earn the relevant certifications.

    • Thank you, Invisible Mikey, for your comment and for visiting my blog! I appreciate your perspective, my experience differs somewhat. As a Christian, an MSW, and having gone through personal crisis I had taken interest in professional ‘Christian Counseling’. It may not be prevalent everywhere but has certainly gained ground. Oftentimes believers go outside the church to find answers or solace when facing life’s turmoils (marital issues, crisis with children, failure, anxiety, grief, etc) rather than seeking the power of Christ. In the troublesome days ahead I believe we will need to know the Lord in greater measure, have His word rooted in us and enable us to truly minister to each other.

      • I’m Christian too. When I was in acute need of a counselor in our second year of marriage, we had awful experiences with three who advertised as “Christian”. Fortunately, we persevered and got excellent help from an old, Jewish sage, a semi-retired psychiatrist. He wasn’t Christian, merely wise, competent and credentialed.

        You’re an MSW, so you qualify. I agree with you that people do (and should, depending on the difficulty) seek help outside the church. Pastors aren’t really trained for somatic brain chemistry-type problems.

      • I am so glad that you ‘persevered’ and I hope things are well with you now. I agree that pastors are not equipped for various mental health issues. In many life struggles though, I believe the church needs to rise up and be the Body of Christ. Thank you Invisible Mikey for sharing, I appreciate it.

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