Where is the gospel?
My counselees are serious about coming into our offices. It takes a certain amount of courage and a lot of humility to say “I don’t have all of the answers.” They usually choose us because we are biblically based. The counselee almost always attends church regularly and says “I am a Christian.”
The first session is always a bit awkward for both of us as we try to get to know each other. Sometimes, her face and body language tell me how nervous she is even if her words do not. My goal is to make her at ease so that she can think and articulate why she is seeking counseling. She expects me to ask, “Tell me about the problem that brought you here today?” After, reviewing some basic information about our consents and her basic information I ask her, “Tell me your testimony?” This is usually met by awkward silence (a normal part of counseling, giving people time to process). What surprises me almost every time is the answer. Most of the time, there is neither explanation of the gospel itself nor the life altering testimony of the grace and mercy of her Savior in her life. What does this mean? Where is the gospel? Is a lack of understanding the gospel the real reason for counseling? The lack of being able to clearly speak the gospel must now influence all of my counseling. I now must weave the gospel into each counseling session as we apply biblical principles to her problems.
Paul tells us in Philippians 3:17-21 “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us…20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. “
We are not the enemies of the cross but rather ambassadors for Christ Himself (2 Corinthians 5:20, 21), Our minds are not to be set on earthly things but rather heavenly things (Colossians 3:1-3)
We can walk worthy (Ephesians 4) imitating those such as Paul who changed drastically when he met the Lord. Paul saw everything through new eyes. Paul was transformed by the fact that Jesus Christ took our sin upon the cross, suffered, died, was buried and then rose from the grave triumphant over sin and death. As we sing, “the gospel changes everything” we are reminded that we were bought with a price and that everything we do is different because of our salvation. My goals are different, my parenting is different, my driving is different and my body image is different. The gospel has to be a part of every story we tell and imagine. We are never certain of anyone’s salvation but we can be certain of God’s unfailing ability to save. The counselor is simply a tool God may choose to use, the goal is to see the counselee transformed by the renewing of her mind, as Romans 12:2 teaches us.
As I weave the gospel into the counseling session each week, I need to be listening to her responses. Is she becoming more gospel centered? Do I see transformation? Can I hear the gospel in her life now? Can she explain the gospel to me now?
Biblical counseling is personal ministry of the Word with the center of that being the gospel.