“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16, 17) The life that God gives is complete; it is not only the spirit that will float around as some religions teach. Let us not fall in the same error! Eternal life is only possible in the absence of disease. Even here on this old earth the quality of life and the capacity to be productive depends on the level of physical, mental and spiritual health.
That is the reason why there are so many recommendations in the Bible, without making distinction between body and soul. We have a responsibility to take care for our body that is the temple of the Holy Spirit. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20) “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever.” (1 Corinthians 9:25) “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians10:31)
The World’s Health Situation Today
Let’s focus now on our time at the 21st century. Is the general situation of the world improving since Jesus left? In fact, the modern and post-modern society presents many new and difficult situations in every area of the life: in the family life, in the working place, in the education of the children, in the economical world and in healthcare. We can be thankful to God that He gave us additional advice through Ellen G. White. It is only since a few years ago that the medical science is discovering the important relations between the lifestyle and physical and mental health.
The World Health Organization is now stressing the importance of a vegetarian diet and physical activity to prevent the chronic diseases that are prevalent today. “Population subgroups consuming diets rich in plant foods have lower CHD [coronary heart disease] rates than the general population. For example, Seventh-day Adventists in the Netherlands and Norway have CHD rates that are one-third to one-half of those in the general population. Californian Seventh-day Adventists who eat meat have higher rates than do those who are vegetarians…” (Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases, WHO, 1990, p. 57)
“Although the primary purpose of the Consultation was to examine and develop recommendations for diet and nutrition in the prevention of chronic diseases, the need for sufficient physical activity was also discussed and is therefore emphasized in the report.” (Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases, WHO, 2003, p. 3)
Health Promotion: The Best Evangelistic Method
Ellen White insists that we should follow the example of Jesus Christ and unite the health message with the preaching. “Christ, the great Medical Missionary, is our example…. He healed the sick and preached the gospel. In His service, healing and teaching were linked closely together. Today they are not to be separated.” (Counsels on Health, p. 395)
“When properly conducted, the health work is an entering wedge, making a way for other truths to reach the heart.” (Counsels on Diet and Food, p. 73)
“To preach the gospel means much more than many realize. It is a broad, far-reaching work. Our sanitariums have been presented to me as most efficient means for the promotion of the gospel message.” (Counsels on Health, p. 540)
“In new fields no work is so successful as medical missionary work…. Medical missionary work brings to humanity the gospel of release from suffering. It is the pioneer work of the gospel.
It is the gospel practiced, the compassion of Christ revealed. Of this work there is great need, and the world is open for it.” (Medical Ministry, p. 239)
The mission of the health message is
- To promote a healthy lifestyle for the best function of body, mind and soul (1Thessalonians 5:23) to God’s glory (1Corinthians 10:31).
- To restore the moral image of God in man by healing the wounds which sin has made (General Conference Bulletin, April 24, 1901).
- To assist in the proclamation of the gospel as the right arm assists the body (Testimonies vol. 6, p. 288).