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Social Support

Social Support | June 26, 2010 Order Info

Scripture: Genesis 1:27; John 1:1-3; Romans 14:7; 1 Corinthians 12:14-26; 1 Corinthians 13; Galatians 6:2; Ephesians 4:1-16.

Dr. Dean Ornish believes in the power of love to heal. And he’s on a mission to prove that intimacy between both family and friends, along with traditional medicine, can bring the best results to ill patients.

Dr. Ornish is famous for his work with the Lifestyle Heart Trial.1 In this trial he took 28 people with heart disease and treated them with lifestyle changes only. In addition he took another 20 patients and treated them with the standard medical treatment plan. The first group was put on a strict diet, guided to manage their stress, instructed to exercise, and asked to meet several times a week with a support group. The results? In one year, 82 percent of the experimental group had some reversal of their heart disease.

Upon completing this experiment, Dr. Ornish became intrigued with just how much the support group actually benefited these patients. So he went on to publish the book,  Love and Survival2 He claims that his book is based on a simple but powerful idea—that our survival depends on the healing power of love—physically, emotionally and spiritually. He writes:

 “I have no intention of diminishing the power of diet and exercise, or for that matter, of drugs and surgery. There is more scientific evidence now than ever before demonstrating how simple changes in diet and lifestyle may cause significant improvements in health and well-being. As important as these are, I have found that perhaps the most powerful intervention—and the most meaningful for me and for most of the people with whom I work, including staff and patients—is the healing power of love and intimacy, and the emotional and spiritual transformation that often result from these. While I have written about these themes in my earlier books, the emotional and spiritual aspects of disease tend to get overlooked—so I decided to write an entire book on the subject. In this book, I describe the increasing scientific evidence from my own research and from the studies of others that cause me to believe that love and intimacy are among the most powerful factors in health and illness, even though these ideas are largely ignored by the medical profession.”

This week’s lesson, “Social Support: The Tie That Binds” mirrors Dr. Ornish’s findings. We were created in God’s image, and we were created to be social beings. God’s plan was for us to love, support, serve, and care for each other. Evidently we strayed from God’s original plan for us, because Jesus told His disciples in John 13:34, 35, “ ‘ A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ ”

“ ‘ As I have loved you….” That’s a tall order! Jesus is calling us to give each other the gift of the same forgiving, accepting, tolerating, inclusive love which He has given us. Not only will this kind of love be a blessing to others, but also it will be a witness to the world. They will see and want the kind of love we so freely give.

If you want to know how to love, follow Jesus’ example, and the example in 1 Corinthians 13. The Message Bible expresses it in a fresh way:

“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always ‘me first,’
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”


1. Vegan Nutritionista
2. Dean Ornish, Love and Survival: 8 Pathways to Intimacy and Health (HarperCollins Publishers), 1998.

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