A Surefire Way to Adventist Health

While loitering at the magazine rack in Safeway today, I noticed dozens of titles like “Shortcuts to Bigger Biceps and Triceps," “An Easy 4-week Fat-loss Plan," “Speed up Your Metabolism in Just 10 Minutes" and “Get a Body You’ll Love (Really) in 2 Months!” Let’s face it—we’re obsessed with the body.

Watch TV, study billboards or flip through a magazine, and a thousand products scream: “Try, buy, apply, taste, use, sip, smoke, wear, put me in your hair.” It’s the allusive promise: You will be happy when...you sport thinner thighs and thicker eyelashes, a tanner face and whiter teeth, softer highlights and bolder lipstick.

Humor writer Dave Barry observes: “They have convinced us we need to spend money to alter every part of our body except our eyelid muscles, and it’s just a matter of time before someone comes up with a machine and an infomercial to sell that one” (as quoted by John Ortberg in sermon, “Overcoming Soul Fatigue,” preached on August 8, 1998, at Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Ill.).

According to Dateline NBC, “Teens are lining up in record numbers to go under the knife for cosmetic surgery...Last year, 25,000 girls had their faces and bodies sculpted, nearly twice that of seven years ago.” Seems everybody wants Arnold’s abs, Britney’s body, and anything that looks like it lives on J. Lo.

Now here’s the irony: In our society we’re flooded with information on how to care for our bodies. We get tips on how to brush, bathe, build and bolster the body. While that’s not a bad thing, it’s not altogether sensible either. That’s because our bodies are finite. No matter how chiseled and shapely your body is right now, some day it will be worm food. With that in mind, don’t you think there are higher goals than to simply prepare your body to die in hopes of earning extra points on that day for nice presentation?

More important than preparing your body is preparing your soul. Too bad we don’t find more articles with titles like "How to Shed Ten Pounds of Ugly Sin in Three Weeks," or "Spiritual Exercises for a Fitter, Firmer Conscience," or "How to Drive Your Boyfriend Batty When You Read The Bible Together."

The clincher is that as we tone the spiritual soul, often the physical body benefits as well! Consider a study of 5,286 people followed for 28 years by Berkeley’s Human Population Laboratory. Regulars at religious services posted lower rates of death than non-churchgoers. Furthermore, research indicates that religious folk not only live longer but feel better as well. One study of 252 patients facing cardiac surgery revealed that they found comfort in their faith and were 14 times less likely to die from the surgery or to have complications. And there’s more. Another study looked at more than 500 hospital patients who were more than 60 years old. Researchers divided the patients into two groups, the religious and the non-religious. They found that patients in the religious group were discharged from the hospital in less than half the time as their non-religious peers.

So for optimum health, start honing your spiritual muscles. Go to God’s gym and get exercising. Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these health benefits will be added unto you.

For as long as Adventist Health has been around, this message of spiritual well-being has been the heart of it. Here’s how Ellen White put it:

“The view held by some that spirituality is a detriment to health, is the sophistry of Satan. The religion of the Bible is not detrimental to the health of either body or mind. The influence of the Spirit of God is the very best medicine for disease. Heaven is all health; and the more deeply heavenly influences are realized, the more sure will be the recovery of the believing invalid. The true principles of Christianity open before all a source of inestimable happiness. Religion is a continual well-spring, from which the Christian can drink at will, and never exhaust the fountain” (Ellen White, Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 13).

October 01, 2003 / Fresh Start

Karl Haffner writes from College Place, Wash., where he serves as senior pastor of the Walla Walla College Church.