Wholistic Health and Well-BEING
by Peter Landless
God demonstrated His interest in the health of His people by creating a magnificent environment to sustain His creatures. He provided a nutritious diet, fresh air, pure water and opportunity for exercise as our first parents tended the garden. He cared for their spiritual health meeting them in the cool of the evening. Even after the fall, the flood and the captivity, God demonstrated His concern for the health of His people by giving them specific instructions, protecting them against many of the diseases that ravaged the Egyptians and others.
"In teaching health principles, keep before the mind the great object of reform – that its purpose is to secure the highest development of body and mind and soul. Show that the laws of nature, being the laws of God, are designed for our good, that obedience to them promotes happiness in this life and aids in the preparation for the life to come"
God incarnate, in the life of our Lord Jesus, modeled wholistic development. “The Child [Jesus] grew and became strong; He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on Him” (Luke 2:40). “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). The physician, Luke, correlates the physical, emotional, mental and social, and demonstrates the wholistic Being in whose image we have been created. Over the centuries, this imprimatur of the Creator has been eclipsed by the degradation and turmoil of a planet in rebellion.
The vision given in 1863 to Ellen White demonstrated that it is a spiritual duty to care for the body-temple, and confirmed the wholistic integration of body, mind and spirit. These principles have stood the test of time and the scrutiny of science. Rest, sunshine, balanced nutrition, trust in God, exercise, temperance, drinking water and breathing fresh air maintain balanced wholeness. The primary purpose of taking care of our health is to enable us to serve God and our fellow beings! We will enjoy better health, but we are saved to serve: “We have come to a time when every member of the church shall take hold of medical missionary work. The world is a lazar house….Everywhere, people are perishing for lack of knowledge of the truths that have been committed to us. The members of the Church are in need of an awakening, that they may realize their responsibility to impart these truths.” (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 7, p. 62)
The Purpose of the Wholistic Health Message
The wholistic health message, firmly grounded on biblical understanding and inspired revelation, addresses fundamental issues of the human existence—disease and the resulting suffering. This is not merely what we eat or drink. Ellen White outlines the purpose of health reform: “In teaching health principles, keep before the mind the great object of reform – that its purpose is to secure the highest development of body and mind and soul. Show that the laws of nature, being the laws of God, are designed for our good, that obedience to them promotes happiness in this life and aids in the preparation for the life to come” (Ministry of Healing, p. 46).
The health message is God-centered, transforming it from information about health into a fully integrated philosophy of health. It originated with the Creator, and was designed for our benefit and well-being. There is a moral component to being stewards of this wholistic gift of life: “So whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
We are sustained and healed by the power of God. Any wholeness we enjoy comes from Him. Through His grace, we can even enjoy wholeness in our brokenness: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). “Our first duty toward God and our fellow beings is that of self-development….Hence that time is spent to good account which is used in the establishment and preservation of physical and mental health” (Counsels on Health, p. 107).
What an opportunity! What a privilege! What a responsibility! We are saved to serve and share. Knowledge is not enough—we must prayerfully live our convictions by His grace.