The biblical counselor often meets with individuals and families who feel “powerless.” In their horizontal orientation, they look about frantically for stability through people and life circumstances that fail answer their most basic need. Too frequently the counseling approach taken unwittingly perpetuates this process by addressing these external influences first, instead of seeking to alter the spiritual orientation of the counselee. Put another way, the solutions needed are not found in this world, but in the constant, abiding security of Christ.
In speaking of God’s Servant (Jesus), the prophet Isaiah invited Israel to “come” to the only sufficient source of provision, comfort, function, and life:
Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.”
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance.” (Is 55:1-2).
These two verses well define the sufficiency and superiority of Christ in contrast to the futile and limited capacities of the world. The prophet points out the striking difference between a transformed life and a life dependent upon temporal sources of relief.
The transformed life is a relational life in Christ. More than the provision of His hand Isaiah speaks of the greatness of His grace. The mercy and love of the Lord Jesus Christ is abounding and full while the world can provide only an inferior offering of short-term supply.
In Christ there is no need for worldly currency when the bounty of God’s eternal economy is accessible to the believer and follower of Christ. Through the pursuit of Jesus and by relational obedience and abiding rest, one is prepared for earthly engagement with others. Without the food of Christ (Jn 6:55) the Christian is malnourished and incapable of subduing the world (Gen 1:28). So the prophet asks, “Why do you spend money for what is not bread…And your wages for what does not satisfy?”
Jesus proclaimed Himself the fulfillment of God’s provision. Much more than the manna God provided in the wilderness for the daily survival of the Hebrew nation; Jesus is now the embodiment of all matters “pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3).
“Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (Jn 6:32-35).
For the Christian there is no other means for empowered living. Since the battles of life are ultimately spiritual rather than physical (Eph 6:12), one’s training and nourishment must be spiritual. To focus on earthly relationships and situations first and only, redirects the believer away from God’s order. When battling emotions, behavior, needs, and desires ahead of the spiritual heart, we counselors set our counselees up for failure.
Such practice is akin to sending a runner into a marathon with a cracker and a cup of water. In truth that runner needs training, building up, correct food and hydration, along with proper focus, vision, and diligence. Our counselees need training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16-17), which comes by the Word. They need to built up in Christ and edified for the purposes of the Kingdom (Col 2:6) creating a walk that is firmly rooted and no longer vulnerable to environmental assault.
Correct food and hydration comes only through the indwelling Christ. Jesus said: “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55). Without an abiding connection with His Spirit, the counselee is without an ability to endure and prevail when faced with the rigors of life. He/She is also incapable of learning correct biblical communication, conduct, and emotion.
Until a counselee’s “reason” for living and problem solving has changed from self to Kingdom, the diligence and fortitude needed, will be lacking. Selfish intent is the root of much conflict (Jas 4:1-5) and ultimately is antithetical to the attitude and nature of Christ (Phil 2:3-5).
As Biblicists we must encourage our divine appointments toward a proper attention to spiritual soundness before we launch into problem solving and horizontal aide. Help them look vertically to Christ and allow the Word to expose any impediment, heart issue, or sin that entangles and limits his/her access to the abundance of Heaven.