For more than a century Seventh-day Adventists have been known for healthful living and for emphasizing wholistic health. Guided by biblical health principles and inspired insights through the counsel of Ellen White, we encourage a lifestyle free from tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, caffeine, and flesh foods, and embrace fresh air, sunlight, exercise, and rest.
Today many of these health principles have become popular, particularly eating a plant-based diet, as illustrated by a recent tweet from a U.S.-based nonprofit organization, the Produce for Better Health Foundation, encouraging people to eat more fruit and vegetables: “If you want your food to make you #happier, #healthier, and just generally better, here’s a plan: Have a plant.” The foundation’s website, fruitsandveggies.org, provides recipes and nutritional information, encouraging people to “join the movement.”
In a bid for better health, wellness programs are also coming to the forefront, encouraging people to live healthy lifestyles and incorporating many aspects of good health that Adventists have known for a century.
To truly bring lasting health and wholeness, however, we must use Christ’s method alone in reaching people (see Matt. 9:35), which includes helping people physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. Helping people with their health points them to the Master Physician who brings full restoration in every area of life.
In the book The Ministry of Healing we read this powerful passage:
“Everywhere there are hearts crying out for something which they have not. They long for a power that will give them mastery over sin, a power that will deliver them from the bondage of evil, a power that will give health and life and peace. Many who once knew the power of God’s Word have dwelt where there is no recognition of God, and they long for the divine presence. . . . A great work of reform is demanded, and it is only through the grace of Christ that the work of restoration, physical, mental, and spiritual, can be accomplished.
“Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’”¹
What a privilege we have to follow in Christ’s steps in bringing hope and healing to this world! How helpful to realize that God created us wholistically—body, mind, and soul—together an entire, integrated unit.
God declares in 3 John 2: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” Long before the current promotion of whole person health, God, the Creator of the human race and everything good in this earth, was declaring that He wanted us to be healthy, and to be revived and reformed through the Holy Spirit’s power. He wants us to understand that we are complex creatures made in His image by His hand and breath. Our magnificent Creator wants us to be in the best of health in every way and prosper through our relationship with Him and our service to others in loving, caring ministry, following His example cited in Matthew 9:35-38:
“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’”
Christ’s ministry is to be ours. He calls each of us to be part of Total Member Involvement—everyone, everywhere, doing something for Jesus! We must reach people living in rural areas, and we must reach those living in cities. Today more than 55 percent of the world’s population live in cities, and by 2050 it is estimated that two thirds of the world’s population will reside in urban centers.²
A Great Opportunity
All around us, people are asking what they should eat and what they should drink and how they should live. It is the greatest opportunity at this vital time in earth’s history to point them to the way of life and complete health.
God has the best health-care plan available—the ultimate plan to restore us physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. He calls for us to share it and “tell the world” through loving-kindness and interaction, pointing people to the One who can bring abundant life.
“The medical missionary work must be as closely connected with the work of the gospel ministry as the hand and arm are connected with the body,” wrote Ellen White. “You need the gospel ministry to give prominence and stability to the medical missionary work; and the ministry needs the medical missionary work to demonstrate the practical working of the gospel.”³
It can be challenging, however, to share this beautiful God-given health message if we ourselves are not practicing it. Ellen White comments on this challenge: “The reluctance shown to the promulgations of the principles of health reform is caused by an unwillingness to deny self. In our large cities, the medical missionary work must go hand in hand with the gospel ministry. It will open doors for the entrance of truth.”⁴
The gospel message and comprehensive health ministry point to Christ as the Master Physician who unites us and brings us the revival and reformation so much needed personally and corporately.
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10), and He invites us to share His life-giving message with the world.
Comprehensive health ministry is closely tied to God’s biblical message of truth, to the precious message of righteousness by faith in Christ, to the proclamation of the three angels’ messages and the sacredness of the seventh-day Sabbath. It is connected with the incredible sanctuary message portraying the salvation process that we need to study and share with earnestness, since at this very moment Christ is interceding for us as our high priest in the Most Holy Place of the real heavenly sanctuary.
We are living in the time of the end; I firmly believe that Jesus is coming soon. Now more than ever, we must utilize the health message in every way possible to bring people to the foot of the cross of the Master Physician. We have been called to participate in God’s mighty movement that will help society in unprecedented ways to find complete health—physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. Will you answer His call today?
¹ Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1905), p. 143.
³ Ellen G. White, Ministry to the Cities (Hagerstown, MD.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 2012), p. 132.
⁴ Ellen G. White, manuscript 117, 1901.
President of the Worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church •
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. Additional articles and commentaries are available from the president’s office on Twitter: @pastortedwilson and on Facebook: @Pastor Ted Wilson.