Religious? You’ll Probably Live Longer

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Ohio State University has conducted a study of obituaries nationwide. The obituaries gives us a unique insight into a persons life and their lifespan.
Obituaries usually have the age of the person, the size and extent of their families, what they were known for, hobbies, and religious affiliations.

What they found was interesting. They found that religious affiliation gives a person an extra four-year boost in life. On average, a person who is involved religiously lived 4 years longer than someone who did not.

“The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives,” ~ Baldwin Way, associate professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Let’s not be too hasty to wave the, “See, Christianity is right!” flag. There were other religions in this study that had the same life extension.
Except for snake-handling churches for some reason.
What we can learn from this study is the necessity to continue to work in unity and in a community. Coupled with religious norms that promote a healthier lifestyle (avoidance of drunkenness, drugs, and promiscuous sex) and stress-reliving practices (prayer, meditation, fasting) there is a communal aspect that is also a factor.

“Many studies have shown that people who volunteer and participate in social groups tend to live longer than others.”
Though, those who ONLY volunteer and participate in social groups did not live as long as those who were religious. Nonetheless, it is an aspect of religion we should not neglect.

When we come together as a Church we are doing more than doing our duty. We are actually helping each other live longer. By encouraging one another, building each other up, comforting those who are hurting, helping those in need. This is why the writer of Hebrews tells us not to forsake coming together. It’s not to keep the pews full. It is so that we all can benefit from each other.

Individual Spirituality

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I read an interesting article in the LA Times a few weeks ago. The headline: “Religiously unaffiliated ‘nones’ are pursuing spirituality, but not community.

The category of “nones,” those who check the “none” box when asked what religion they are, has increased from 10% in the 80s to over 23% today. It is the Millennial generation that is the driving force for this increase recently.
However, it is not that they are not religious. They are very spiritual in their thoughts and actions. Contrary to the sexy secular utopia promised by the New Atheist of the last decade, the “nones” are turning to other forms of mysticism and spirituality.

“Rather, they are turning toward more individual forms of spiritualism, including yoga, meditation, healing stones, Wiccan spell casting and astrology.”

The individualism is reaching its peak in our culture. Religion and spirituality is no different. Picking your own beliefs, your own truths leaves you free from the judgments from others. It lets you be you, no matter how greedy or envious you are. There is no need to change because you are OK just the way you are.

When people look at the Church, they see judgmental, oppressive, and controlling entity that is a huge kill-joy. What they don’t see is the love, the compassion, and the family that can be found in Jesus Christ.

The challenge of the Church today is to show the love that God has for his people. The way in which that love is shown is how the Body of Christ loves each other. Several places in the Bible the unity of the people of God is a witness to God’s work and God’s love. When we are united we show the true image of Christ on earth.

As long as we continue down the road of disunity we will continue to push away those who need God the most.