This is the fifth entry in a series of posts addressing Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work. The purpose of these posts is to view questions proposed from a friend a few years back when he learned that I was pursuing a degree in Social Work. You can see the entire series as it is posted by clicking here. So, here is the next entry, enjoy!
Q. How do you interpret 2 Peter 1:3
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence
A. In the immediate context, my friend was asking about the relevance of medications and mental health. A perplexing paradigm for me even to this day. The brain is an organ that regulates the body’s processes. It produces signals, chemicals, hormones, and responses that control how the internal systems work. Those systems also regulate our moods, and relevantly, our mental health.
Observation of the brain and its function demonstrate that there are certain impairments that are chemically effected by various other contributors. Some include the environment one is raised in, use of substances, and even developmental delays or complications. To look at this verse literally left my friend seeking an answer for the ungodly behavior of his mentally ill friend.
The Pandora’s box of evangelical morality creates a dilemma for someone who views this verse as a justification for the appropriate behavior of a person whose brain does not permit them full control of such behaviors. Please don’t misinterpret what I am saying here. We are discussing legitimate organic brain malady’s that are proven to impact how a person’s behavior manifests itself. There are a myriad of diagnoses and other behavioral disorders that are not necessarily impacted by biological processes, but of those that are, medications provide a respite for the individual suffering from them.
In the field of social work, medication is an important component of clinical treatment. Persons with disorders requiring medications can benefit from the respite provided to them. During this time of assistance many other interventions become important. Some of them include case management, medication management, therapy, and many other aids to help facilitate coping skills and better life management. The medication helps re-establish a sense of stability that enables the person to build a foundation to live their life from.
Some people require medication for a lifetime. Some do not. Each and every one of us is much different than the other. Our brains do not function the same, nor do we develop the same.
My interpretation of 2 Peter 1:3 in the context of this discussion? It is difficult to emphasize godliness when the measurement of that godliness is cultural morality. It is a dangerous area to flirt with semantics, but if one is striving toward godliness and obedience to Christ, the power to do so is provided by the Lord himself. Medications are not going to impact the individuals ability to commit to a renewing of their mind, they very well may help the effort! However, if the behaviors of someone claiming Christ and their profession of faith are in direct contradiction to each other – re-assessment of one’s faith should be in order. All the more responsibility belongs to the observer to commit to discipleship and aid that individual in obeying the commands of Jesus Christ (Mt 28:19-20).
John Piper adds that
the Christian faith is not merely a set of doctrines to be accepted. It is a power to be experienced. It is a tragic thing to ask people if they know the Lord and have them start listing the things they believe about the Lord. Brothers and sisters, believing things about Jesus Christ will save no one. The devils are the most orthodox believers under heaven. It is divine power that saves. If the power of God does not flow into your life and make you godly you are not Christ’s. “All who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God” (Ro 8:14–note). The mark of sonship is divine power. And the mark of power is godliness; which means a love for the things of God and a walk in the ways of God.” (Read or listen to the full sermon Liberating Promises on 2Peter 1:1-4)
What about this verse? Do you have any insight into how this verse would impact someone professing to be a believer but receiving services or medications for mental health?
This post is part of a series.