From time to time it comes up; the confused looks I get, or the incorrect assumptions I hear when I mention that I am a biblical counselor — “What exactly is that?” Some responses indicate that people think I am a psychologist who happens to be a Christian and others respond as if biblical counseling is only helpful for some Christians but not to humanity as a whole or the complex problems people face. Both these responses are wrong, but I do not blame the misunderstanding on them. Biblical Counseling is, no doubt, an enigmatic term and the whole of Christian counseling has been a bit of a confusing mess in its recent history as the Church has tried to rightly reclaim the service of “soul-healing” aka, psychotherapy. So then, how do I define Biblical Counseling? Biblical Counseling is intentional conversations filled with the infinitely rich Word of God, sufficient for the deeply complex problems of people, aimed at transformation to the image of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God. This type of counseling could happen anywhere along the spectrum of personal communication from an informal conversation to a formal counseling session but it requires intentionality.
At Christ Community Church, we believe that all Christians are competent to speak the truth in love to one another and thus build up the Church. This is just one application of Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 4:25-29. We are to put away falsehood and speak the truth in love…speaking to build up and not tear down. Of course the content of the conversation is truth (v.25), the prevention is against the devil (v.27), the aim is grace to the hearer (v.29), the method of delivery is humility (31-32), and it finally images what God in Christ has done for us (v.32). We are able to do this in so far as we are immersed, steeped, and stewed in Christ’s rich word. It is not necessarily our skill-set or ability that brings about real lasting change (though, glory be to God he gives us certain gifts and skills, Ex. 31:3-5, for His purposes) rather it is the Spirit-empowered Word of Christ, breathed out by God, that is the effective means of change. This Word is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteous, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
So Church, it is our delight to “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching, and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” Col. 3:16). Our impulse to relegate the care of souls to the sidelines, as if it’s not a necessary or a primary function and focus of who we are and what we do as the Church, is biblically unfaithful and irresponsible. ‘Counseling is the Church’ and “the Lord whose will the Bible reveals lays claim to the curing of souls. If counseling is about understanding and resolving the human condition, if it deals with the problems of real people, if it ever mentions the name Jesus Christ (or ought to, but doesn’t), then it travels in the domain of theology and the curing of souls. ‘Counseling’ ought to come under, and express, the church’s authority and orthodoxy”(Powlison, Speaking the Truth in Love: Counsel in Community, p.110). Let us make the best use of our time by injecting the healing, building, correcting, encouraging Gospel into every conversation whether short, interrupted, long, or formal. And thus, aim toward helping one another bring glory to God. Take heart, for biblical counseling is, at the end of day, seeing things as God sees them; through the rubric of His Word and with the heartbeat of Christ. Christian, you have the sufficient Word of God; read it, know it, treasure it, and use it.