have a friend—well I have many friends—but this particular man has been a friend for a long time. One of the things we have in common is our interest in older cars; we think of them as being classics. For us they are classics because they come from the era of our youth. True, that makes them old cars! You may well ask, what is the connection between old cars and Health Week? Keep reading!
For Health Week 2015 (May 16-23) we are asking a question: What is the connection between spiritual health and physical health? It's a question we want you to think about, especially during this coming week focusing on health.
What is health? Is it more than just not being sick? I believe it is so much more. The creation story reveals that God intended for us to all enjoy high levels of complete wellness. In Genesis we read of our God creating His ideal world for His "made in His image" people. Repeatedly this newly formed ecosystem is described as being "good" (Genesis 1:1-25). Then God forms mankind to manage this ideal environment. He indicated that the seeds, fruits and plants are to be the optimal wholesome foods (Genesis 1:26-30). Genesis gives a lot of detail about the creation of man and this new "God designed" and "God given" environment. God’s reflective conclusion was that it was all "good, so very good" (Genesis 1:31, The Message//REMIX).
The final act of Creation week was the Sabbath, a constantly repeating gift of time blessed by God. It was established as a "holy day". We mark the completion of His creative activity with a period of rest from work (Genesis 2:1-4). We know it to be a blessed time for relating to God through worship and enjoying the evidence around us of His love and creativity.
God also recognised the need for Adam to have a close relationship partner. In the making of "woman" (Eve) He acknowledges that "it is not good for the man (Adam) to be alone, I will make him a helper, a companion" (Genesis 2:18).
I maintain that in the first chapters of Genesis we see God’s definition of ideal health:
- God intended for us to be involved in managing our surroundings. We see an environmental connectedness that is linked to physical activity, work and life purpose. This ecological connectedness is also linked to appreciation of design, science, creativity and aesthetics. I believe that God gave this to us for our physical, mental and emotional health.
- God gave a simple, plant-based diet of foods that grew from the ground. We see a nutritional connectedness that leads to optimal physical (body/brain) health.
- God intended for us to experience close relationships. We see here the importance of social connectedness that is allied to our relational and emotional health.
- God also gave us a day of physical and mental rest. A day set aside for a change of pace, for worship, and for contemplation of His creative and redemptive activity. The Sabbath becomes a powerful contributor to our mental/emotional and relational fitness as well as to our spiritual wellbeing.
- God gave us an extraordinary affiliation with Himself that operates on a spiritual, intellectual and relational level. God’s plan was for us to experience a close, strong and personal relationship with Him. Thus our spiritual health is directly linked to a transcendent connectedness.
In this ideal environment health, as we define it today, was not an issue as disease was not yet a problem. We should never forget that the Genesis account had established the most important comprehensive health principles in advance of the entry of sin and resulting death. We see in the Creation story what was, and still is, God’s ideal for us.
So is there still a connection between spirituality and health? I think of the many outstanding Bible texts that link physical health with spiritual health. Texts like:
“Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you” (Exodus 23:25).
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27).
“Your body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost . . . Ye are not your own . . . . Ye are bought with a price . . . Wherefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19,20).
“Whether therefore ye eat or drink or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
“I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 1:2)
Today there is a significant body of research that demonstrates a link between spiritual involvement and the resulting physical health benefits.
At a recent Health Professionals Conference held at the Sydney Adventist Hospital, Dr Gerald Winslow from Loma Linda Hospital and University spoke about research showing the health benefits of prayer, forgiveness, Christian service, belonging to a faith group and the importance for health of having hope for the future and faith in God. Interestingly, Dr Winslow also rotated the connection around the other way. He talked about the connection between physical health and spiritual health. He pointed to Ellen White’s contribution that good physical health can lead to optimum brain health and spiritual perceptiveness with a resulting increased receptivity to God's will in our lives. I'm grateful for the wonderful counsel given to our Church that physical and spiritual health are so interlinked (For an example, see Testimonies, Vol 3 p 62).
Which leads me to my friend and his classic car. I know you were wondering about that connection! You see my friend inherited his father’s car. It's a 1960s Ford Fairlane with a rumbling V8 engine. It was old and tired and needed a lot of work. It was a big decision but he decided to fully restore the car. The engine, the gearbox and the differential were reconditioned. He combed the world for replacement pieces that would make it like new. The body was stripped back and then repainted. Carefully all was put back together. It was an act of devotion to a car and to his father. It was a very proud day when the fully restored Ford was driven out onto the road looking and sounding just like new.
I suggest that God is in the business of restoration. The whole gospel story is about how God is working to restore what He originally gave us before sin entered our environment. Christ came to restore His Father’s world. His death was the ultimate act of loving restoration (John 3:16). Christ was definitely a Restorer. Every act of healing was an indication that He wanted to get people closer to the Garden of Eden state of true complete health. Now we are all looking to the time of ultimate restoration described in the book of Revelation. John pictures Eden restored as the day when there will be no more death, sorrow, crying or pain (see Revelation 21:4).
Just as Christ is in the restoration business, so we should be. Health for Adventists is about restoration for here and also for the hereafter. Our health message is way above what we "do not do"—it is about what we do do and why we do it. True health is more than just a physical restoration; it is about a full restoration. Is it about health just for personal pleasure? Maybe, but it is more about health for a purpose—a much higher and holier purpose. Here is the connection between health and spirituality. Our health work is to be a part of God’s work of restoration. Restoring the right connections between us and others, between us and our world, and between us and our Saviour—or should that be our Restorer?
Sibila Johnson - Director, Adventist health, Victorian Conference
Physical and spiritual health work best together. Our motives for following a healthy lifestyle should relate to our relationship with God. If our minds are clear and our bodies are healthy we are able to understand the will of God and in turn serve others. Good health enables us to be joyful witnesses to truth, love and compassion, and makes us more effective for our wonderful heavenly Father.
I have experienced during my years of serive in health ministry that the health work can very effectively break down prejudice against spirituality as mothhing else can. Ellen White said this, and I constantly have the privege of seeing this happen. I paise the Lord every time!
We can offer people something better than they now have, to be healthy in body, mind and spirit. For me, ministry of health and healing is central to the faith and practise of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Dr Chester Kuma — Associate Director Adventist Health Ministries. South Pacific Division
I believe the Bible present a strong connection between sirityality and health. "Shalom" is one of the most beitiful Hebrew words inScripture. True,it is a common Hebrew greeting but it has a far deeper meaninh. More than a greeting it is a wish for peach on the one being greeted. I believe the word "shalom" comes the closest to defining health in Scripture as it presents the desire for "wholeness" of life and not merely physical health or healing. It connects the spiritual and the physical dimesions together in an intricate way. Shalom means: completeness, soundness, health, prosperity, peace, wholeness and balance, suggesting a state in which all the needs of a person are fylly satisfied. It means to be whole, to be complete, to have physcical and spirtual resouces sufficient to one's need, and encompasses a state of physical, mental, social and, most important of all, spiritual wellbeing. Thus it enlarges our understanding of health as a "wholeness" of existence in God