Jesus said, “I came that they might have life in all its fullness.” -John 10.10
Sometimes people understand churches to be rescue missions or healing stations. True, God’s grace and love have amazing powers to heal our wounded hearts and minds. I see it all the time and I’m thankful. Alongside that I’m equally fascinated with the recent slow shift in Western medicine. For the longest time the emphasis has been on healing sick people. They’re getting better at it all the time and I’m thankful. But in recent decades there’s been more attention paid to what makes people well in the first place: how to promote physical wellbeing and perhaps ward off disease; how to promote mental health; how to be well spiritually.
In this picture I’m standing by the Roman bath in Bath, England, a wellness center constructed about the time the first Gospel was written down. The hot springs at Bath had been a sacred place of healing waters for millennia before the Romans came.
I love the image of church as a sacred place of healing waters, the church as spa restoring us in body, mind and spirit. The church should be a place where people learn a healthy life-style that honors the temple of body, mind and spirit as God intended. We should be in the wellness promotion business. It’s a major theme all through the Bible. Like the scene in Psalm 23: “God leads me beside still waters; God restores my soul.” Standing there in Bath I was reminded of the time Jesus offered “living water” to a woman at a well (John 4). The Divine has much to teach us about physical, mental and spiritual well-being, deep wisdom to share about healthy work and play, life-giving relationships, wholeness in the midst of pain and loss, and the importance of maintaining the health of our homes—my house, your house, the church house, and planet Earth.
This spring at Faith United Methodist Church, Austin, we’re sharing a sermon series called “The Good Life: Seven Keys to a Healthy Christian Lifestyle.” This week and next we’ll be looking at well-being at work and play, then the key to a healthy body. April 1st and 8th we’ll pause the series to celebrate Palm Sunday and then Easter Sunday. I hope you enjoy it and receive it as an invitation to your own renewal, your own new life, in whatever ways you most need. God wants you to be well and, as Jesus said, have life in all its fullness. You can do it; God can help.
All good thins to you in Christ,
david gilliam, pastor, faith united methodist church, austin. for more about faith church, click here.