By Leslie Diestelkamp
Visiting the sick has certainly been described as a proper quality for a follower of Christ. It is proper and right that every Christian, including the preacher, should do this good work. However, Jesus did not mean that every time some sister has a headache the preacher must go to console her. Neither did he mean that every time some brother has the ‘flu the preacher should expose himself to the disease by keeping the sick man from being lonesome all day. In fact, the modern requirement that the preacher must go by to see every person who is ill is completely out of harmony with the things taught in the New Testament. In the days of the Apostles, ministering to the sick meant rendering assistance to them. This we ought to do even today. Preachers ought to help when they are needed, not because they are preachers, but because they are Christians. But churches ought to quit expecting preachers to spend hours and hours of their time driving from house to house, going where they are usually not needed and often not wanted.
It sometimes sounds like we have hired a man to visit the sick. I have heard people say, “He was such a good preacher. He always visited all the sick.” But what did he do when he “visited” them? Was he needed there? Was he able to really serve them in their need? And what did he do when he stood up to teach God’s word? Could you tell then that he should have spent more time with his Bible and perhaps less time wandering from house to house with little more than a “cheer-up” message?
Perhaps now, after writing this, I’ll be given a new description. Some may say, “He is even against visiting the sick.” So, for emphasis and to clarify, I shall say:
1. Followers of Christ must “visit” — that is assist–the sick.
2. But churches should not hire a gospel preacher to do that work, and preachers should not allow themselves to be diverted from that more significant work of ministering to souls that are sick in sin.
3. All of us need to realize that the average “sick call” does not accomplish at all what Jesus referred to.
Truth Magazine VI: 5, p. 1