Recently, I was channel-flipping and landed up on the disciplinary hearing scene in Patch Adams (1998), the Robin Williams’ film about the real-life unconventional doctor who holds relationships as paramount in treating people who are ill. In this scene, Adams is summing up his philosophy about medicine. All through the film he’s bucked the system of the medical community, which tends to treat patients as objects to be fixed and, in the process, loses relationships and stops seeing people as people.
At one point, Adams looks at the panel (who will determine whether or not he graduates from medical school) and tells them, “You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I’ll guarantee you’ll win.”
This really resonates with me on a couple of levels. The first part of Adams’ words remind me of the current church culture’s take on evangelism: people too easily become targets or objectives in which time spent with them are win-lose encounters. If they accept Jesus then our encounter is a “win.” If they don’t, our encounter is a “lose.” All too often, this approach minimizes relationships (if not completely negates them) and that in turn muddles the real message Jesus brings.
And that brings me to the second part of the quote, which reminds me of how we should relate to each other. Jesus wasn’t about starting a religion or making converts; instead he was all about healing people: bringing us back into a restored and abundant relationship with the Father and into the Kingdom. . . .
So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them: "I'm here to introduce you to this God.... He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him!" ~Acts 17