New Study: Frequent Churchgoers Have Better Mental Health
GRANTED, THIS ARTICLE comes from a Christian source and may seem biased to some. And yet, it is an observation made by social scientists with some sense of regularity. The title of a 2016 USA Today article conveys what the science demonstrates “Religion May Be A Miracle Drug.”
In the article, Tyler VanderWeele (Harvard Professor) and John Siniff (USA Today Journalist) ask a good question. “If one could conceive of a single elixir to improve the physical and mental health of millions of Americans - at no personal cost - what value would our society place on it?” Apparently, there is such an elixir…the church! The bottom line is that “church is good for your health.”
That has been part of the challenge during this year of isolation. We have not been able to be together as we like. And yet, at the same time, it has been our connection with our church family that has helped to sustain us during this time.
In fact, Lyman Stone indicated that the impact of isolation during this pandemic could be used by God to lead to renewal and revival. How so? He said, “We need to be saying, ‘When you were alone at home, I wasn’t. While you were lonely, my church was looking out for me. While you were afraid, I had a hope no matter what happened.’” In other words, we have the church!
It reminds me of the wonderful announcement we hear this time of year. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which means, God with us.”
We are never alone. Through the church, we not only experience fellowship with each other, but also with God. That is why John says that he proclaims the risen Jesus. It is so that you may have fellowship with us; and indeed, our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). We were made for relationship and we find this longing met in Christ and his church.
Continuing to reflect on Caroline Cobb’s article, she writes, “May the isolation of quarantine, and the fact that many of us have gone without in-person worship since March, drive us to deeper gratitude for the family of God. May it prompt in us a longing for Christ’s return, when “the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine” (Isa. 25:6) and “a great multitude” will eat the marriage supper of the Lamb and worship together (Rev. 19:6–9).”
May this Christmas season find you resting in the blessing of being part of God’s forever family and you the assurance that you are never alone.
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