It is often thought that the gospel message has mostly to do with how we get to heaven. However, Jesus' message has far more to do with how we live on earth than how we get to heaven.
The good news Jesus promises is that, regardless of how difficult things may get, God's Spirit is with us and in us to enable us to live a life of love, with gratitude and peace. Salvation has to do not only with eternity, but with wholeness and health for us now, so that we can live a life of grace and love.
Dr. William Sadler, in his book, "Practice of Psychiatry" said, "No one can appreciate so fully as a doctor the amazingly large percentage of human diseases and suffering which is directly traceable to worry, fear, conflict, immorality, dissipation, and ignorance - to unwholesome thinking and unclean living.
"The sincere acceptance of the principles and teachings of Christ with respect to a life of mental peace and joy, the life of unselfish thought and clean living, would at once wipe out more than half the difficulties, diseases and sorrows of the human race."
Dr. Kristopher Hagan wrote, "One third to two thirds of all patients who seek medical advice in the average doctor's office, have ailments that have been caused by psychological or spiritual stress."
Still another doctor who has researched this subject is Dr. S.I. McMillen. He recorded 12 major diseases that are directly related to these self-centered emotions: resentment, worry, hate, jealousy, malice and anger. He goes on to say that a person who practices love and forgiveness is not only opening the way for reconciliation, but is probably saving himself from "ulcers, toxic goiters, high blood pressure, and a score of other diseases."
Pitirim Sorokin, the former chairman of the department of Sociology at Harvard University, wrote these words, "Unselfish love has enormous creative and therapeutic potentialities, far greater than most people think. Love is a life-giving force, necessary for physical, mental, and moral health ... it is an indispensible condition for lasting happiness."
That is what Jesus taught. Love for God and neighbor are always first. The apostle Paul, following his Lord, Jesus Christ, said "Over all these virtues, (compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness) put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity" (Colossians 3:14).
Love blesses others. Love blesses us. Make love our aim.
Sometimes it's tough, yes, very tough. Make love our prayer. God will answer that plea. Amen.
The Rev. Randy Klassen is a retired minister of the Evangelical Covenant Church. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should telephone Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org