When I was a student at the seminary in St. Louis there was a big building called the Beaumont Building. I don’t remember exactly what was ensconced in that building when I was there but there was a time when it was full of doctors. Every kind of doctor imaginable had an office in the Beaumont building and so evidently there were clinics there as well. The building features as part of a long meditation written long ago by St. Louis Pastor, Frederic Niedner. The title of his meditation was “the great physician”. Here it is –
“There are many who would be the physicians of the world. There are many who propose powerful potions of their own concoction to heal all the ills of the world. As these physicians for the world’s sickness hang out their spurious shingles, we feel as if we were in the Beaumont Building, where glass door after glass door tells you of the presence of aurists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, roentgenologists, ontologists, dermatologists down to urologists, all ready to cure the ills of humanity until the “cadaverologist” begins his work. For the economic ills of the world, each political party has the remedy that will not fail. For the future economic security of the individual the insurance agent, the investment broker, and Dr. Townsend have the right answer. For the pangs of marital unhappiness, the successors of Dorothy Dix have the miraculous cure. For vice and crime the legislators have new laws that will effectually curb all unsocial tendencies. For the youth problem there are ramified youth programs, tailored to the needs of young people and providing them with healthful leisure-time occupations that will engage their energies in whole-some activities. Doctors without end for the illnesses of the world. This sick world needs a Great Physician, and there is one Physician for this sick world, Jesus, the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. In His medical kit there is a potion for each one of the world’s ailments. Jesus has the remedy for every ill.’
So as you can tell Pastor Niedner was from the old school and wrote his little meditation along time ago. For many people that would be a reason not to pay any attension to him, but to me it makes all the difference in the world. The old preachers had a steely-eyed look at the world and saw there the power of sin and death the power of the devil. They were willing to stand up in the face of those evils and face them down with the word of God. I have feared for a long time the pastors my age and younger are not willing to develop that steely-eyed look at the world. Instead we build windmills out of worship wars, liturgical practices, societal offenses, and conflict within the church that we can tilt at, rather than getting down and dirty with the genesis of all ills – sin. When we do that it is sometimes hard to get down to the only remedy for sin and that is Christ. We spend time psychoanalyzing when we should be preaching Christ and him crucified.
The reason I got to where I am right now in this meditation is the fact that last night a company called Gilead announced that it had a helpful aid in working through the coronavirus. I don’t know if it’s considered a possible vaccine or just a treatment to make people fight through the virus or what? It makes no difference for my purpose which is to think about for a moment, the Balm of Gilead. There are references to it, both in Isaiah and Jeremiah. The Jeremiah passage is very sad. It’s a question. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why is there no recovery?
The answer is pathetic. There is a balm in Gilead and it’s plentiful. There are physicians there who know how to apply it properly. There is no recovery because the people refuse to come to the physician to receive the cure in the first place. There is some of that going on right now in our country. There are people who have common maladies that can easily be cured or fixed or alleviated, but they are afraid to come to the doctor for fear of getting the coronavirus. This is very sad stuff. When the cure is easily obtained and readily available and people refuse to take it, there is pathology there. There is pathos there. It is pathetic.
Many of us believe that the fix, if not the cure for our present situation is worse than the illness. We have of course the risk of being called insensitive, or more concerned about profits than people, but once again this is nonsense. We need to have that steely-eyed look at the real ailments that we have.
There is a fascinating implication in what we’ve been going through and that is that health and “life“ are more important than the real-life and real health we have in Christ. If you don’t have your health you don’t have anything we’re told. Any steely-eyed look at our world tells us that if we don’t have Christ we don’t have any thing.
There is a balm in Gilead. There is a physician who knows how to apply it and cure the ills and eradicate the sin sickness and give us true health and peace. He has no office hours. There is no break in quarantine to see him because he is near is your heartbeat, and as close as your virus ridden breath. He doesn’t mask up to protect himself, but he came to breathe our poisoned air, and carry all our diseases. His name is Jesus.