Adventist Health: It's Part of Our Mission
Do you know why Seventh-day Adventists are so focused on good health for themselves and others? Here are a few thoughts.
We believe good communication builds good relationships. God communicates with us through our minds and senses. If we want to know God really well, we will be anxious to keep these channels of communication as sharp as possible. Good health plays an important part in our relationship with God.
We would agree with Paul Tillich who said, "To speak of health one must speak of all dimensions of life which are unified in man."
Many early Adventists adopted this holistic outlook as our church grew in its spiritual formation. It simply recognizes all factors — mental, physical and spiritual — are inseparable parts of our being.
Ellen White wrote in 1887, "Our Lord Jesus Christ came to this world as the unwearied servant of man's necessity ... It was His mission to bring to men complete restoration; He came to give them health and peace and perfection of character. From Him flowed a stream of healing power, and in body and mind and soul men were made whole."
This viewpoint is completely different from what many believe today — that wholeness can be found by looking inward to self. As Adventists, we believe we must look to, and believe in, an infinite reference point outside ourselves — God.
Interestingly enough the Greek words for "health" and "whole" are the same. To be an Adventist is not just to belong to a church but to adopt a new lifestyle which affects every aspect of life. It seeks to restore us to the wholeness for which our Eden parents were originally designed.
There's even an element of stewardship to good health. Scripture says, "Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost ... ye are not your own ... ye are bought with a price, therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's," (I Corinthians 6:19, 20). It is important to care for our bodies and keep them in optimum health because our usefulness to God, and in fact, our very perception of God, is greatly influenced by our physical, mental and emotional health.
For these reasons the Adventist church has been led into a large field of ministry that emphasizes health. We operate hospitals and clinics, train physicians and nurses, and print publications focused on healthy living. Our churches conduct health education programs throughout their communities.
And by integrating faith with health, Adventist Health organizations have set themselves apart. Our distinctive brand of care means staff members are not only interested in finding healing for disease, but also for the whole person — physically, mentally and spiritually.
This was the style of care modeled by Jesus. I believe it will be part of our Adventist mission until He comes again.
"Our distinctive brand of care means staff members are not only interested in finding healing for disease, but also for the whole person — physically, mentally and spiritually."