Did you know that people who go to church tend to live longer than those who don’t? It’s true, and there are lots of reasons why. Several scientific studies conducted by various groups attest to the fact that churchgoers live longer than average.
One study of people over the age of 65, conducted by Dr. Harold Koenig of Duke University, found that the more religious a person is the lower their blood pressure. Low blood pressure increases life expectancy as it makes several health problems less likely.
Another study, carried out by Susan Lutgendorf at the University of Iowa, followed the lives of participants for twelve years and found that of all of them, those who attended church were 35% more likely to live longer. The study noted that churchgoers tend to have stronger immune systems.
While these studies acknowledge that going to church isn’t a cure-all, they both identify several different reasons why regularly attending church is great for your physical and mental health.
One of the main factors that lead to long life is the general lifestyle they lead. The Bible teaches us to be moderate in all things, and avoid destructive behaviors. As Christians we’re called upon to work hard to overcome our urges to indulge in unhealthy foods and alcohol, and instead treat our bodies as holy temples of God.
2. Mental health
Everybody goes through difficult times now and again. Believing in Jesus Christ does not make us immune from depression and anxiety. However, our faith gives us a firm foundation from which to fight these dark spirits. The Bible is always there as a source of hope when we feel hopeless and guidance when we feel lost. Our faith can pull us through even the most painful moments of our lives.
The church also provides a strong support system; friends and family in the Body of Christ. As believers, we are called to bear one another’s burdens, lift each other up in prayer and love and support one another.
Christians practice this love and gather around the struggling person to let them know they are not alone. This system of love and support bolsters up the struggling believer and encourages them.
The message that Jesus brings gives us hope in a hard and cold world. In fact, God wants us to be cheerful.
3. Physical Health
Many of us make a resolution to get fit and healthy, but this resolution can be hard to stick to.
As with everything else, our Christian faith gives us a reason to push on through difficulties in the expectation of something greater on the other side. When we start to see physical health and fitness as a way of honoring God, it gives us the extra boost we need to stay consistent with our exercise regime.
Furthermore, as part of a supportive community we enjoy the encouragement of those around us as we strive to improve our lives. In a world of negativity, meeting as a church helps recharge our mental batteries and give us the strength to keep going.
4. Stress Management
Jesus commanded us not to worry or be stressed, saying “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” (Matthew 6:34). Given that avoiding stress is one of Jesus’ teachings, it should come as no surprise that Christians are are less likely to stress over life in general. This is especially true when we have the support of other believers and can turn to them in times of need.
Whether it’s through prayer, life-groups or other relationships, Christians are very aware that they do not have to go through things alone. When life is stressful, the believer can turn to God for support and know that they will be met at the point of their need. When a crisis or a sudden change occurs, Christians come together to help one another through the transition and life beyond.
5. The God Factor
Finally and most importantly, there is the God Factor: God himself promises life to those who trust, obey and serve Him. God is sovereign and He uses such circumstances in the believer’s life to bring about his purpose.
There are multiple points in the Bible where God grants long life to those who follow His commands. For example, in Psalm 91 God promises long life and salvation to them that love Him and acknowledge His name.
We are often taught to think of the spirit and the body as being in opposition to one another, but throughout the Bible God encourages us to pursue physical health just as we pursue spiritual wisdom.
As Christians, we seek to live wholesome lifestyles in soul, spirit, body and mind. The key to this is the support of others – specifically the body of Christ who walk with us through this journey we call life. We have a Savior who cares for us, brothers and sisters who love us and pastors and ministers who counsel and guide us. To be sure, we will suffer from ill health, but together we have immense strength to battle through these tough times.