“If Jesus comes, I’ll be in my clinic!”

“If Jesus comes, I’ll be in my clinic!” December 6, 2023

Sign with black background reading : "First Jesus, then coffee"
Image by Priscilla Du Preez CA on Unsplash

       The danger of being so heavenly minded we are of no earthly good 

A ministry that shares an acronym with the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) has been in the news recently for yet another scandal. This essay is not about the current scandal or the on-going investigation, but rather about some of the teachings of that ministry. According to a commentary by a former member, the staff were subjected to questionable teachings and even discouraged from pursuing further education.

“Spend your life in prayer and get a degree from heaven!”

I was unable to access this former member’s blog when I tried to, so my source is a video from Where the Wild Bee Wings. One thing that struck me was the emphasis on very specific prophecies, which the staff members were required to listen to. According to this report, they were told that they would be “held accountable” by God, since they had now been given access to the prophecies. The writer also stated that the prophecies had been amended over the years to provide explanations about why certain aspects hadn’t been fulfilled. According to his account, the prophecies were shared with staff and interns, along with quotes like:

 “We are at the end of the age. You can go to college and get a piece of paper, or you can spend your life in prayer and get a degree from heaven. Sure, go to college, but most Christians who go to college end up falling away from the faith and denying Jesus.” 

The writer further noted that some people eventually left the ministry and, to their disillusionment, found out that they didn’t have the skills they needed in the real world.

 

“If Jesus comes, He’ll meet me in my clinic!”

 The issue of discouraging people from attending college because the return of Jesus is believed to be imminent reminds me of an experience I had many years ago. I told a colleague that I was planning to further my education. He gave me a stern look and said, “What if Jesus returns, and you’re doing a residency?”  Even though he was only a year ahead of me (academically), for some reason I took this as a serious rebuke – as if he were in spiritual authority over me. For a while, I was very disturbed and wondered if I was wrong to pursue further training in my career. The person in question later wrote me a letter in which he told me in no uncertain terms that I was essentially wasting time trying to advance my career instead of focusing on what he deemed to be “spiritual things.” I don’t remember everything he wrote in the letter, but I do remember these words “Jesus did it by the Word.” In other words, I needed to focus on being like Jesus so that I could heal people by simply speaking the “Word.” I shared the letter with another friend and she told me he had no right to speak to me that way (which is what I should have told him in the first place). She also said, “If Jesus comes, He’ll meet me in my clinic!”

 What I did instead …

Fortunately, I managed to get past the confusion that followed the “rebuke” and got on with my life. For those who don’t know me, the conversation referenced earlier happened shortly after I graduated from dental school. I have since gone on to complete a clinical dental residency, a master’s degree in public health and a dental public health residency. I got board certified in dental public health and enrolled in medical school the same year. On graduating from medical school, I completed an internship in psychiatry and family medicine and a residency in family medicine. I am currently board certified in family medicine and addiction medicine. I’ve done other things besides getting degrees and completing residencies, but I’ll spare you the details.

Think for yourself…. Decisions are yours to make!

And if you are wondering what happened to the person who “warned” me about pursuing my career aspirations?

Well, he, too pursued further training, and went on to complete a residency in a demanding specialty. Boy, am I glad I didn’t listen to him! The moral of the story is that we each have to make our own decisions and act according to our convictions. The people who act like they are morally or spiritually superior are human beings like us; they make mistakes and can change their minds on the very issues they have defended aggressively in the past.

“Secular” work is no less service to God!

The very idea that “secular” work somehow doesn’t matter as much as “ministry” work is part of the reason some people discourage others from getting a so-called “secular” education. If Jesus worked as a carpenter and  Paul the Apostle as a tentmaker, what makes us think we should be any different? I feel bad for those who have left ministries like the one discussed above, only to find that they don’t have the skills needed to survive in the “real world.” We can’t all be in the pulpit – or in full- time “ministry.” God needs His people everywhere. That’s how we can make an impact.

 

 

 

About Olapeju Simoyan, MD, MPH
Dr. Olapeju Simoyan is a physician, board certified in family medicine and addiction medicine, with a special interest in the connections between faith and health. She strongly believes that faith and critical thinking are not mutually exclusive. As a female physician, Dr. Simoyan is also interested in women's issues and writes about religious abuse and trauma, with a focus on how misinterpretations of biblical texts have led to the perpetration of abuse within church settings. She has combined her writing and photography in several books, including Living Foolproof, a devotional based on reflections from the book of Proverbs. Her latest book, Transformation and Recovery - Lessons from the Butterfly, is a workbook suitable for people in recovery from addictions and other behavioral disorders. Link to Amazon author page https://www.amazon.com/stores/Olapeju-Simoyan/author/B0BP7RSYBL?ref=ap_rdr&store_ref=ap_rdr&isDramIntegrated=true&shoppingPortalEnabled=true You can read more about the author here.

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