By Scott O’Malley
March 5, 2021
When a person decides to seek out counseling, there is always a presenting problem that needs to be addressed. However, after listening to a person’s life-story, it becomes apparent that there is much more to the situation than just one issue. There are themes and patterns to a person’s life that need to be uncovered. There are heart issues to bring to light. There are instances of suffering that may need to be disclosed. Regardless of all the complicating factors and the myriad of issues that will need to be dealt with in any counseling situation, one thing is always true: abiding with Christ is a significant part of the solution!
“Communion with Christ is a certain cure for every ill . . . Let nothing keep you from that hallowed communication, which is the choice privilege of a soul wedded to THE WELL BELOVED. Don’t be content with an interview now and then, but always seek to retain His company, for only in His presence have you either comfort or safety. Jesus should not be to us a friend who calls upon us now and then, but one with whom we walk forever.”
(Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening March 9 pg. 139)
Many people when they are ready to face a problem are looking for a formula or a series of steps that will give them the freedom or victory they seek. Jesus’ invitation, however, to those who are weighed down by sin is this:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Part of what it means to come to Christ means is to abide with Him. John 15:4-5 says,
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
What then does it mean to abide with Christ? The word abide is meno in Greek. It means
“to stay (in a given place, state, relation, or expectancy): to abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry”
(James Strong, The New Strong’s Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament pg. 56).
I encourage you to wrestle through what it means to abide, to be closely connected to Christ. Here is one author’s description of the process of knowing and communing with God:
“How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is we turn each truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God . . . Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God.”
(J.I. Packer, Knowing God pg. 23)
As we seek to serve hurting people around us, it is imperative that a foundation of our counsel be that they draw near to Christ. We serve a mighty Savior who has unlimited resources and He continually invites us to draw near to Him. Hebrews 4:15-16 says,
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
While every counseling situation is unique and varied to some degree, there is also a commonality to it. As counselors we must help the people to whom we minister to recognize that regardless of the problem before them, a significant part of the solution they seek is an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ.
For further study consider: Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund, Habits of Grace by David Mathis, Knowing God by J.I. Packer, The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges, and The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer.