Christianity is far more relevant to emotional health than many people realize. It is certainly true that many Christians have mental illness, and many non-Christians seem to get along better with others than some believers. However, well-established research over the past 40 years has consistently shown that Christians who have a vital relationship with Christ have fewer divorces, suicide, alcohol and drug abuse problems, more public service, and less delinquency and prejudice. This research data seems to be one of the best-kept secrets in the mental health field.
The relevancy of Christianity to emotional health centers on our fundamental personal needs for wellbeing, health and wholeness. Being created in the image of God produces the need to develop certain qualities and the capacity to do so. Consider the relevancy of Christianity to each of the following human needs:
- To give and receive love – The very essence of God is love, and He promises to enter our lives when we recognize our need for Him, accept His forgiveness for our sin and receive newness of life by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. This transaction results in a new capacity and motivation to love. We are also motivated to forgive as we have been forgiven, and this, too, enhances our capacity to give and receive love.
- To feel worthwhile – The Bible tells us that we are completely forgiven, fully pleasing to God, and totally acceptable to Him. Our value is based on being created by Him, in His image, and being restored and renewed through Jesus Christ. As we follow God’s leading, we can experience a sense of purpose and love. This experience motivates us to develop a lifestyle that continues to fulfill that purpose and enhance our relationship with God and others.
- To have meaning and significance – Our life takes on meaning and significance when we realize God loves us so much that He was willing to die for our sins so that we could have a new quality of life now and for all eternity. As we minister to others, our lives take on even greater significance because we are acting consistently with how God made us to “live a life of love.”
- To be creative – As we are released from the paralyzing effects of sin, failure, and rejection, there is an enhanced capacity to express ourselves through creative expression. We are also protected from compulsively working and producing since our value and worth is not based ultimately on what we do. A person who determines his priorities under the direction
of God not only experiences freedom from being driven to perform, but also finds that freedom stimulates creativity.
- To have dominion – We are all called to be good stewards of what God has given us: home, family, property, country, world. God has promised to motivate and aid us in carrying out His will in these areas. As we behave responsibly, we have a positive effect on our home, family and environment.
- To have satisfying relationships with others – Relationships with others are enhanced through loving, forgiving, sharing, listening, reconciling, encouraging, affirming, showing affection and helping. All of these qualities come from God. His promise is that the more we commit ourselves to behave accordingly, the more He will bless us with greater capacity to live in this fashion.
- To have a satisfactory relationship with God – We are, in fact, created to have a relationship with God. If this need is not met, there will always be a void in our lives, and we will strive to fill this vacuum with various substitutes. Christ promises that He will abide with us when we accept Him as Savior, and turn our lives over to Him. When this relationship is
established, our most basic need is met.
There are many powerful factors that can prevent these needs from being adequately met. Self-centeredness and deception separate us from God and lead us to attempt to meet our God-given needs by some means other than God’s way. These means may promise satisfaction and fulfillment, but they ultimately result in more pain, stress and heartache. Failure, rejection, low self-image and the development of negative attitudes block our needs from being met. Also, some people carry terrible wounds from the past that interfere tremendously with their ability to lead a fulfilling, satisfying life.
Clearly, Christians do not experience complete satisfaction in all areas; in fact, they can experience the same relational, medical and psychological problems as everyone else. Christians do, however, have an additional powerful base upon which to build – the solid rock of Jesus Christ. The end result is ultimate stability and hope.