We live in a time where everything and everyone is in constant motion. This fast-paced lifestyle sponsored by the creators of the rat race (which is essentially ourselves) has led us to neglect the peace of our souls. Mounting societal pressures powered by social media, and the ever-increasing demands of work and personal relationships have created a perfect stage for mental well-being to be compromised. Anxiety, depression, stress-related disorders, and feelings of isolation have become all too familiar in our daily lives.
As the issue of mental health is being taken more seriously in our world, many practices such as therapy, counselling and self-care are widely acknowledged. Biblical sermons though widely unexplored even by believers offer a holistic perspective on mental health by emphasizing the interconnectedness of mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Through the convergence of biblical wisdom and mental health, sermons should serve as a guiding light, illuminating the path towards peace and emotional well-being in an increasingly tumultuous world. In the following sections of this article, we will delve into how the teachings of Jesus should serve as a guide in preaching sermons that will greatly impact the mental health of believers. We will do this by exploring how they inspire hope, facilitate the emotional release of joy, promote mindfulness and reflection, offer guidance and coping strategies, and cultivate a supportive community of believers.
The chapters of John 14 through 17 were the last piece of teaching, exhortation or admonishing of Jesus to His disciples. So basically a sermon. In these passages of scripture key themes are expounded on that should drive the believer’s joy, peace and general outlook on life. Jesus starts this sermon with a profound exhortation in verse 1 of chapter 14; “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” In this verse, Jesus talks about the disease and the simple yet underrated remedy to the sickness; faith in the finished works of Christ. And since faith is the substance of things hoped for, He expounds on this hope in verses 2-4 as He talks about the future home of the believer that He’s going to prepare. Sermons that build up our faith and remind us of the future hope that we have in Christ are essential in guarding our hearts against the troubles of life.
The promised Holy Spirit that comes to everyone who believes in the finished work of Christ signifies the presence of tangible peace in the life of a believer. Jesus expounds on this truth in verses 25-27 of John 14 by saying:
“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”
The Holy Spirit with us that reminds us of the truth of the gospel is another reason why we shouldn’t let our hearts be troubled or afraid. This reality transcends the solutions of the world. Jesus says “…not as the world gives”, this means the solution Jesus provides transcends whatever else we may want to seek to escape the troubles that plague our souls. Sermons that exalt the Father, magnify the Son and speak on the reality of God dwelling in us in the form of the precious Holy Spirit serve as an antidote to the ills that plague us.
In chapter 15 of John, Jesus expounds on the path to true joy. In verse 11 He says the words He has spoken to His disciples were spoken so that their joy may be full. He shows us that the key to unlocking boundless depths of joy and leaving the pit of depression is abiding in His word. Basically reading, listening and immersing ourselves in the truth of the Gospel. The idea we see in these passages of scripture is like an onion with its many layers. The Holy Spirit abides in us and we in turn should be abiding in God by listening to His word and keeping the commandments in His word. This is how we have inner peace and express unbridled joy.
One thing is certain as we walk through this life, the challenges of life wouldn’t just disappear, trouble will always be lurking in the corner. Jesus emphasises this truth in verse 33 of chapter 16 where he said:
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Through times of hardship, what words are you banking on? Are you banking on the words Jesus has spoken? Are we secure in the love of the Father as we see in verse 27 of chapter 16? Paying attention to the word of Jesus is the pathway to peace. Jesus instructs us to be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. These truths should set our hearts at ease and we should be eager to always hear them so our lives can be transformed by the love of the Father.
Finally, Jesus concludes this delightful sermon in chapter 17 by praying for His disciples and all those who will believe by extension. The same Jesus the Father always hears (John 11:41) has prayed for us. This should set our hearts at ease and this knowledge should be among the guard doors to our hearts. One of the key recurring themes in this prayer Jesus offered to God is the theme of community.
“And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” – John 17:11
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” – John 17:20-21
In navigating the issues of life a healthy community of believers that is united under God is essential to the Christian. A few weeks back in the article on How Sermons Can Help Christians Grow Spiritually, we saw that sermons are an important tool in building communities. Being a part of a body of believers under the influence of God’s word is a way through which the believers can keep their minds set on Christ and rest in only what He has done as revealed in His word.
Jesus’ sermon to His disciples reveals to us the pathway to true peace in a world full of darkness and depression. We also get to see the pathway to real joy that is not dependent on our external circumstances but by abiding in the word of God. This sermon should also serve as a guide to not only preachers but all believers as we encourage one another to live whole Christian lives as lights in this dark world.