Contending as One
September 26, 2023
“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do” (Philippians 3:17, NIV).
We were sitting at a small table in the cheap furniture section of the hospital employee dining room, my first chance to get to know her: a young, chief of in-patient psychiatry, mother of three small children, follower of Christ—me: an old guy, chief of oncology, 50 years married, grandfather of six, follower of Christ. She briefly shared with me her professional, Christian and family journey. She then added, “I’m young and new at this leadership position. I wish I could find a Christian psychiatrist to mentor me and show me how to do it well for Christ.”
Our local CMDA council met recently to re-invigorate our local fellowship after the pandemic separated us. One of the key issues discussed was the necessity for us as Christian healthcare professionals to come together and rediscover that we are not alone in our walk with Christ. It’s important for God’s kingdom that we enjoy fellowship with like-minded people and band together in mutual service for our Lord.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul encouraged those at Philippi to “…stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you…” (Philippians 1:27-28, NIV 1984).
I personally don’t know how to do this alone, and yet I often live as if I do.
In my own case, when I’m not in fellowship with other Christian healthcare professionals, my desires, my mission and my message creep more and more toward the desires, mission and message of those not grounded in Christ, rather than “contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.” The less I am standing firm in one spirit with other Christians in my profession, the more I fear to speak boldly the gospel message.
In addition, on my own I don’t have the skills to truly integrate my faith into daily practice. It’s not obvious or easy. The specifics for healthcare professionals are not the focus of our vital local church ministries. Integrating Christ into our practice requires each of us in healthcare to share with each other the ways we live out our faith in our daily lives. Only then can we grow together with the motivation and skills to be truly Christian during our incredibly important daily mission.
My young psychiatry colleague is seeking mentors and Christian colleagues. She inspires me to do the same. Before we headed back to our individual work, she shared with me, “They’ve just started prayer sessions in the hospital chapel every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10. There were only five of us the time I went, but it was good; it wasn’t watered down; all the prayers were in Jesus’ name.”
I need to pray with other healthcare professionals just as much as she does. She pointed the way. I hope to join them soon.
Sophocles said, “The ideal condition would be, I admit, that men should be right by instinct; but since we are all likely to go astray….”
Help me to never quit seeking your truth and your way through colleagues who love you.