Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27
`No man is an island...' So run the all-too-familiar words of John Donne. But the fact remains that far too many Christian doctors are islands separated from the spiritual mainland by a vast sea of time-consuming clinical duties, research projects or hospital committees. Or to change the metaphor to a more medical (and indeed biblical) one, we are like limbs that have become detached from the body. And who more than doctors should be aware of the dangers of that?
Only a few weeks ago, I was talking with a senior colleague when the subject of Christianity came up (as it quite often does, if you pray for sensitive use of such opportunities). `Well actually I would call myself a believer', he said, `although as the years have gone by my belief has had less and less to do with formal church activity'.
Whatever he was a believer in, his statement certainly shows that it was not in the God who is the Lord of the Church, and who has commanded us `not to give up meeting together, as some are doing' (Heb 10:25 GNB).
A widely experienced evangelist told me last week that he felt that the local church where Christians come together for worship and ministry should have more priority in the individual believer's life than any other social factor.
I have had jobs in three very different parts of the United Kingdom since qualifying. On arrival at each locality, as I have been driving round to find the hospital, the first thing that I have looked for en route, is a place to have fellowship with God's people. It's more important than a supermarket, a launderette, a hairdresser or even a good `local' -- vital though these may also prove to be for some of us!
I remember the thrill of driving through the town where I did my first house job. Almost the first thing I noticed was a brightly coloured building with a six-foot high sign and the fish painted on it. God's people meet here, I thought. Although at that moment I did not know a soul in that county, I knew that I would very soon have many brothers and sisters there. And praise God I did!
Of course there are rare occasions when spiritual isolation is forced upon us. But this is not the norm, and every Christian doctor who is able should be found involved in the fellowship of a local church on Sunday. For, as one well-known Christian consultant psychiatrist has put it, `even the witch-doctor must be a member of the tribe'.
Further reading: 1 Cor 12:12-27. Eph 2:19-22, 4:4-16.