I have recently been dealing a bit with the topic of "depression". Not because I am affected by it myself or because someone in my immediate environment is, at least I don't know anything about it, but I have come across the topic several times in the media because some cabaret artists or comedians are affected by it and have made it public on TV.
I found that remarkable. I have no deeper knowledge of this topic, I only know what I have heard and read about it in the media. And the topic of "depression" is not supposed to be the actual topic today.
Two cabaret artists who I find quite funny have spoken very openly about their depression. You may know them: Torsten Sträter and Kurt Krömer.
I found it surprising, but one thing struck me about both of them. They both stressed the importance of acknowledging that you need help and then actually getting help and this point kept me going.
Of course, this is not easy with such a topic, because you cannot always count on the understanding of those around you.
If you have broken your leg, for example, it is clear to everyone that you cannot work. If you have depression, there is often not so much understanding. Statements like "Don't make such a fuss" come up here and there.
Depression can also have organic causes and must then be treated with medication. But many depressives also find help from doctors, e.g. talk therapy helps in many cases.
Why is this still such a taboo subject?
Why are people often inhibited to seek help for such an illness? In general, it is still difficult with mental illnesses.
Except perhaps in the case of burnout: then you are the hero who overdid it a bit. A manager without burnout has not done his job properly ;-) I'm exaggerating now, of course.
I think we humans don't want to be weak and we usually also want to be in control of our lives and we also want our environment to believe that of us.
You can also suffer from a broken leg, but everyone can see that and there is usually also a clear timetable for when it will be okay again.
With depression or a similar illness, you don't see that. You should be able to manage it yourself, why do you make such a fuss! Help is more needed by people who are in a really bad way, where you can see it!
This is a fallacy and here we are already at the Gospel.
Who is the Gospel for?
Let me read Matthew 9:10-13; NL
Now, "scum" is not translated literally, it actually says "tax collectors" and "sinners", but that's what the Pharisees meant: scum.
Brief explanation: tax collectors or publicans, as it is called in other translations, very often collected more than they were entitled to and this made them very unpopular and therefore this group of people was often also seen as a symbol of a bad person.
Matthew was such a tax collector and he invited Jesus, the disciples and his old friends and colleagues to dinner. And the Pharisees did not like it.
We are already polarised by our Christian socialisation that it is quite obvious that the Pharisees are thinking and talking completely wrong here.
But let's transfer the situation to today. We don't have obviously corrupt officials as a population group, but what if, for example, a neo-Nazi comes and decides for Jesus and then he makes a celebration and invites people from the community and from his old circle of friends so that they also get in touch with Jesus?
What would the neighbours say then? What would happen in the social media?
You realise that a situation like this can also be complicated.
But Jesus Christ says:
The doctor is of course a symbol of Jesus Christ and the sick are a picture of sinners.
And Jesus can only help sinners. Those who think they are good enough, they are out. They cannot be helped.
And Jesus refers it not only to God and man, but also to people among themselves:
And that also means being merciful to the wicked. The tax collectors were not poor helpless victims, but they were perpetrators.
Of course, it is not a question here of letting wrong actions go under the table, because Jesus, too, has always been clear about which deeds are wrong and which are right.
But he wants to give the offender a chance to repent, the sick should be able to get help from the doctor. Life can be put in order, with all the consequences, which in some cases also means taking legal responsibility for one's actions and compensating the victims.
But let's take a look at ourselves. There are probably no corrupt officials here, and probably no neo-Nazis either, but we are sinners just the same. That is ultimately what we all have in common here. We have all realised at some point that we need forgiveness, that we cannot do without Jesus.
And this brings us back to help. Are we still aware that we need help, from God and also from other people?
Or to stay in the image of Jesus' comparison: Are we aware that we need Jesus Christ as our doctor again and again, every day? And that we are dependent on the mercy of other people?
Within the Christian framework, of course, we are all in agreement because, objectively speaking, it is right from the Bible.
But are we aware of it in everyday life?
I thought about the last time I confessed to a non-believer: "I can't cope without Jesus".
That was a long time ago. I sometimes have conversations about my faith, but it's hard for me to say it explicitly, because I don't know if the person I'm talking to will understand.
Or let's go down a notch further: Without the mercy of other people, I would not be able to cope.
And this brings us to a pious term that is no longer very common in everyday language.
Humility towards God
The term "humility" comes from Old High German diomuoti ('willing to serve', thus actually 'attitude of a servant'). The components of the word can be further broken down into the two words 'serve' (dionōn) and 'courage' (muot) (Wikipedia).
However, this definition does not really seem complete.
The Bible is already about clarifying the relationship between God and man and being humble before God is something positive in the Bible, e.g. Psalm 25:9; NGÜ is said about God:
You can already see here that it is not just about us, the people, being down here and God being up there, but that it is about a relationship, about being with each other and about needing His guidance and help.
I believe that this humility is what makes a Christian life.
One is aware that it is not possible without Jesus. You need him, you need his help in all things.
Humble is different from, for example, submissive or humiliated, like a whipped dog.
You can see this well in the example of Moses. It is said about him in Deuteronomy 12:3, NL:
Moses was certainly not submissive. He spoke to Pharaoh without fear, he courageously led the people of Israel and he also had supreme jurisdiction, which is probably not possible submissively.
But he was always aware that God was above him, that he needed God and that without God it would not work. Of course, he also made mistakes in his life, that's clear. That will also happen to us from time to time.
Because even if our lives may be going quite well at the moment, we should be aware that we are in God's hands, and if we were no longer, we would have a problem.
Humility towards others
A humble life is also helpful among ourselves. I would like to look at Galatians 6:1-4; NL:
"Helping to get back on the right track" is actually the translation I liked best. Other translations write here "lovingly set right".
Of course, such situations are never easy. No one likes to be told that they have done something wrong.
Nowadays, the terms "wrong" and "right" can only be considered in the context of a "because", a justification, which I also think is right, because otherwise there is a danger of somehow judging something because that is how it has always been.
But let's go back to the difference between "finding back" and "putting right". I believe that "finding the way back" is more effective than "getting it right". Of course, help is useful for both, but at least for me it's generally the case that I learn better when I come up with the solution myself. If someone gives me a ready-made solution, it's gone more quickly than if I bite my way through to the realisation myself.
Maybe it's also a matter of type.
In any case, the point here is to help each other, and of course that includes admitting that you need help.
We also find this here in the second verse:
Other translations write here: Help one another to bear the burdens, but this means the same thing.
Do we know about each other's difficulties and problems? Do we share our difficulties and problems?
Or are we so arrogant that we think we have all our difficulties and problems well under control ourselves?
What we also learn in this text is that everyone is important, but no one is more important, and all comparison is stupid.
And that is already important. In our own lives, and also in our congregation, let us be aware again and again that without Jesus Christ nothing works and that we need each other to help each other with our difficulties and problems.
- The example of the openness of well-known artists to their depression made me realise anew that one should admit that one needs help and also seek the help.
- Jesus came for the sinners, the offenders, so that they could get to know him and repent. People who think they are good enough are out with him.
- We too have all realised at one time or another that we need forgiveness, that we can't do without Jesus and that we need him anew every day. And that is part of the humility that makes up a Christian life.
- We also depend on the mercy of people . Opening up to help each other find our way back and helping each other with our difficulties and problems fulfils the law we have from Christ. This is the other part of humility that makes up a Christian life.