The medical columnist of a USA newspaper received an unusual letter. The writer complained of a phobia that sounds strange but may be more common than we think!
She claimed that whenever she went to a church she felt weak and dizzy, and within a few minutes began to perspire. Her doctor had suggested she sit at the back or near an open window. But all to no avail – the problem persisted.
The columnist diagnosed her disease as Ecclesiophobia – which means literally ‘fear of church’ (he suggested she might be allergic to something in the building).
The lady’s case is not unique. There are people who seem to be able to bear any kind of stress situation except a church service. They are not bothered by the winter shopping sales, where they are bumped around by hundreds of people shoving about madly.
They feel quite relaxed at a football game with 30,000 fans screaming at the top of their voices. Violent or X-rated movies do not raise their blood pressure, nor do the wildest parties shatter their emotional equilibrium. But, wonder of wonders, the very thought of going to church puts them in a panic.
Curing the disease
While not ruling out genuine physical or psychological problems, I suggest that in most cases these people are allergic to God. Anything that reminds them of the Almighty gives them the tremors. The hymns, Bibles, a congregation of believers, and even the minister are symbols of Deity – and that’s a concept they would rather not face.
The Bible itself gives instances of people who avoided God. After Adam and Eve had disobeyed God they ‘hid themselves from the presence of the Lord’ (Genesis 3:8). Again, when Jesus preached his first sermon in his home town, the people were allergic to him – they were so angry that they tried to kill him! (Luke 4:28-29).
According to the Bible, all men are enemies towards God until they are restored to fellowship with him through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:10). The only cure for Ecclesiophobia is to be reconciled to God – by turning from sin in repentance, and to Christ in faith.
Those who do, find that God is not an angry judge but a loving Father.