Bible is preventive medicine for soul

  • Follow Your Faith

A recent article in a respected medical journal proclaimed that one of the most significant developments of modern health care is “preventive medicine.”

The Rev. Joe Bowden  SPECIAL
The Rev. Joe Bowden

That claim has some merit, but all that modern health care has done, with the help of technological advances, is to sophisticate preventive medicine. There is nothing new about the concept.

Throughout history, all societies have realized that it is much easier to prevent a disaster than to clean up after one. The simple act of hand-washing introduced in 1847 markedly reduced the maternity death rates from infection. It does, however, seem a shame that it took about 3,000 years for those 19th century physicians to realize the benefits of hand-washing recorded in Leviticus 15:1-7.

Americans spend a lot of time and money on preventive health care, from brushing our teeth with plaque-preventing tooth paste to getting mammograms and cardiac scans.

Most politicians place preventive health care as a major plank in their platforms. When Hilary Clinton ran for president in 2008, a primary element of her health care plan was to “focus on prevention: wellness not sickness.” As a physician and priest, Clinton’s words resonated with me as a message for health care and as a mission for the church.

The church spends a lot of its time dealing with “spiritual sickness,” better known as sin. I submit that the church could take a page from Clinton and practice preventive spiritual medicine.

Just as there are numerous preventive health care measures we take at different times in our lives (from well-baby checkups to colonoscopies), there are preventive spiritual care measures that will be more appropriate at one time than another. I’m not going to offer an exhaustive list of preventive spiritual health care practices or habits, but here are a few that people of faith have found helpful in boosting their spiritual health. All are from Jesus.

PRAYER: A time to be quiet and be in relationship with God – a time to reflect on our own life and our life with God. As a fringe benefit, studies have shown that people who pray regularly are, in general, healthier than those who don’t.

REGULAR BIBLE READING AND STUDY: The Bible is the story about God. Somewhere along the way we misguided humans turned things around and thought the Bible was about us. Because the Bible is about God, it has its own logic, paradox and vocabulary. With study, we realize that God’s way is the only way to abundant life and health.

SERVING OTHERS: Reorienting our compasses from ourselves to others keeps us on the right spiritual tract. Jesus is the quintessential example of service. Unconditional acts of kindness change us and the world.

It is important to keep in mind that preventive spiritual health care practices are not ends unto themselves. The end is full relationship with God in Christ. That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.”


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howcanweknow 01/21/12 - 09:27 am
Some good words, but tends to

Some good words, but tends to dance around the real truth of things. The Bible is not just "the story about God." I can write a story about God, but that does not make my words divinely-inspired scripture. Properly, the Bible is the Word of God. That's first and foremost. It's not just a "story".

The "abundant life" the article addresses is curiously earth-centered. While life in Christ can certainly bring an abundant earthly existence, the "abundant life" Christ was referring to was more about eternal life -- not so much earthly existence. As Jesus said, his kingdom is not of this world. Neither are Jesus' followers.

Christ does not promise us "abundant life and health" on earth. That's an "ear-tickling" distortion of the Gospel that goes down easily but is not always true. Christ's way is more often than not the more difficult road to follow in life. Certainly serving others is a great thing, and we're all to do that. But, serving others is the fruit of our relationship and commitment to Christ; service is not the means to obtain life in Christ.

Jesus unconditional kindness did not change the world. Jesus' blood on the cross has changed the world. When we try to shift the focus of God's word away from our sin and Christ's salvation, and focus instead on social issues and "good works", we've cut the heart out of the message Jesus brought.

jic 01/21/12 - 02:28 pm
Geeze, Howcanweknow. Can't

Geeze, Howcanweknow. Can't you hear yourself?

howcanweknow 01/21/12 - 03:32 pm


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