Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you
are my disciples, if you have love one for another”. I know that we’re all
aware of the importance of love. Love is the first attribute of the Holy
Spirit that’s mentioned in Galatians. We know that God is love. We know that
we are to love one another - we’re to love even our enemies. But today I
want to focus on a practical aspect of love, and in so doing, my hope is
that this will encourage us, in terms of what God is doing with us, how we
can affect those around us, and how God is going to use us in the future.
Because love is very powerful, and in fact, the title of my message is “The
Healing Power of Love”.
I want to illustrate through a true story, and you
can Google it – this actually happened. Most people are not aware of it.
It’s not that highly publicized, although a book has been written about it.
It’s well-known in certain circles. Until I had reason to research this
subject a number of years ago, I had never heard of this. I think this story
illustrates the healing power of love, even when it’s just human love.
Back in 1971, in San Jose, CA, a psychiatrist by
the name of Dr. Loren Mosher began an experiment called the Soteria Project.
“Soteria” is Greek for “salvation”. Now, Dr. Mosher got his undergraduate
degree from Stanford, and he got his medical degree from Harvard - he was
highly qualified. In 1968, he was appointed director of the Center for
Schizophrenia Studies. That was his specialty – the study of schizophrenia.
This Center for Schizophrenia Studies was part of the National Institute of
Mental Health. So he held a very high position in the psychiatric community.
At the same time that he was appointed director of this center, he wrote a
grant to obtain funding for a different approach to treating schizophrenia.
We have, in this country, tried a number of
different approaches to treat schizophrenia. In the 1930s, one of the
approaches that was very popular was lobotomy. A lobotomy is simply a
medical procedure that severs the ties to the prefrontal cortex, which is
part of the frontal lobes of the brain. So in layman’s terms, basically a
lobotomy is separating and cutting off that part of the brain where
reasoning and thought takes place. We look back on lobotomy as being cruel
and inhumane and horrific. We think “How in the world could we have done
this to the people in our society that are the weakest and need help the
most?” We thought the solution to their problem was to give them a lobotomy.
And yet, the doctor that originated this procedure back in 1935 was awarded
the Nobel Prize in 1949, believe it or not. You see, no matter how inhumane
our approach has been to people that have mental difficulties, every time
the doctors come up with a new approach, we think this is cutting-edge
technology, that we’re on the edge of a new frontier and we’re about to
solve this problem, which is rather pervasive in our society. You may not
realize it, but 2% of the population in this country has been diagnosed as
having schizophrenia, which is just one of a host of mental problems that
afflict people in our modern society.
There was a doctor who theorized that the problem
with these people was that they were being physically corrupted by having
bad teeth, and that there was infection taking place. So his solution was to
pull teeth. There were people that went into his mental institution and came
out having all their teeth removed. This sounds ludicrous to us now, that
anybody would think that this could cure somebody of a mental problem. And
yet, at the time, he was featured in the American Medical Journal as being
on the forefront and the cutting edge of science.
In 1938, we began to use ECT. It used to be called
“electroshock therapy”, now they call it ECT, which stands for
“electro-convulsive therapy”. It’s nothing more than a way of inducing
seizures through the use of electricity. Now, this is really nothing new, in
terms of the seizures. Doctors have been for a long time using various
methods to induce seizures in people that had mental difficulties and mental
problems to try to cure them. It’s just that now they figured out how to do
it with electricity. Again, it seems rather barbaric. I will tell you that,
as horrific as this is, ECT is still used to this day. There are people who
are forced against their will to have ECT. And believe me, it is not a
picnic to have that electroshock therapy, that electrically induced seizure.
Moving forward a little bit to the 1950s. Some of
these things like lobotomies began to fade away, because now certain drugs
had been discovered and synthesized that were taking the place of the
lobotomy. I’m talking about drugs like Haldol, Clozapine and Thorazine, to
name some of the more well-known ones. What these drugs did was, they made
people who were schizophrenic or were having other types of mental
difficulties manageable. They did through chemistry what used to be done
through the scalpel in a lobotomy. Basically, the drugs interfere with the
brain’s normal pathways, and isolate the frontal lobes of the brain where
the reasoning and thought processes are. It has been referred to by a number
of people as a “chemical lobotomy”. And yet, we’re told by the media and by
the pharmaceutical industry, and by the medical doctors and the American
Psychiatric Association, that these drugs and the next-generation
antipsychotics are a cure. That someone who is having mental difficulties is
experiencing a biological illness, which is characterized by a chemical
imbalance in their brain, and that these drugs are correcting that
In reality, the doctors are dealing with something
they don’t understand. The human mind is a spiritual thing. People talk
about wanting to become more spiritual. Some people in the world will
describe themselves as spiritual. The reality is that every human being is
spiritual, in the sense that we have the spirit of man, which imparts
intellect. The doctors do not recognize that this spirit exists. They only
know what they can see, smell, touch, observe and measure. Other than that,
they don’t recognize anything. And so, they do not realize that when they’re
dealing with the human mind, they’re dealing with something that is outside
the physical. There’s a physical component to it - the brain is physical -
but they’re dealing with something spiritual and they do not understand it,
and so they continue to try to find ways to deal with the problems on a
physical, biological level, and it does not work. Not only does it not work,
it’s actually very harmful and very painful to the people that are subjected
If you live in the greater San Diego area, and you
have a mental breakdown, and you’re taken to the county psychiatric ward,
and you’re out of control, the first thing they’re going to do is inject you
with Haldol. It’s a very cheap drug, and it’s highly effective at knocking
somebody out. What I discovered in my research is that in soviet Russia,
back in the 50s and 60s, Haldol was used to torture political prisoners. It
was common practice at that time for somebody who was a political dissident
to be diagnosed as having a mental disorder, and then they would inject them
with Haldol. Haldol, like many of the other neuroleptics, induces something
called akathisia. Akathisia is something that is brought on by the normal
pathways of the brain being disrupted. It produces a feeling inside the
person that is partially actual, physical problems with their muscles –
stiffness and soreness. But mostly it’s a feeling of discomfort, where
you’re never comfortable. So if you’re sitting, you feel like you need to
get up and walk around, and if you’re up walking around you feel like you
need to go sit down. I’ve been to mental hospitals many times. Not as a
patient, but to visit people that are there. I’ve always wondered “why are
the patients just moving around?” They’re like pinballs, they can’t sit
still. They’re just constantly in motion. That’s why.
Dr. Mosher was one of a handful of psychiatrists
who decided that maybe the methods that were in vogue at the time, and that
historically had been used, were not effective, and in fact maybe were
harming people, and he decided to swim upstream. He opened this experiment
in San Jose in 1971 called the Soteria Project. He envisioned a radically
different approach to treating people who had mental disorders. This
approach that he envisioned can really be encapsulated in one word, and that
word is love. Granted, the type of love that people are capable of, apart
from God’s spirit, is just human love, but even human love is a very
I want to just pause for a moment in the story and
briefly address schizophrenia. Because schizophrenia is one of those words
that we’ve all heard, and we’ve all heard of people being schizophrenic, and
most of us are not really sure what that is. The common misconception is
that it’s a split personality. Now, it’s true that some people who are in
mental hospitals, or who are homeless and wandering the streets, may have a
demon. In fact, when there seem to be multiple personalities coming out of
somebody, that’s probably what that is. But schizophrenia is not a split
personality. Schizophrenia is a mental condition that is characterized by
hallucinations, paranoia, and confused thought processes.
With that understanding, what Dr. Mosher did was,
he opened up a home where people could come who had been diagnosed as
schizophrenic. He chose people who were between the ages of 18 and 30, that
had been recently diagnosed as being schizophrenic, and were deemed to be
hopeless cases. The method of treatment at Soteria House was very simple. It
involved very little use of drugs, and in most cases no use of drugs at all.
When they did use drugs, it was in very small doses, and typically it was in
the beginning stages when somebody was out of control, in order to help calm
them down to the point where they could be worked with. The program at
Soteria House was not something that was done by people who were
psychiatrists. The people who worked at Soteria House were just regular
people who had no special training, but were chosen mostly on the basis of
empathy, personality and patience. Each schizophrenic person who came to
Soteria House to live was assigned one person to be their companion, 24/7.
Basically, they were matched up with one person on the staff. It was a
one-to-one ratio of staff to patients, and each patient had a person who was
their friend. They were encouraged to take part in community activities such
as household chores. They were encouraged to bathe regularly, get dressed –
just basic, normal activities of life that we might all take for granted,
but that a person who’s suffering from mental problems might not do.
There was one patient who, early in his stay at
Soteria House, was convinced that aliens were going to come, and he was to
meet them at the park, and they were going to come and take him away in
their spaceship. Rather than arguing with the guy and trying to talk him out
of it, his professional friend (the guy that was assigned to him) said
“Okay, let’s go”. So at 4AM they went, sat on the park bench and waited.
Several hours went by, and finally the patient said, “Well, I guess they’re
not coming”. It was a little, tiny baby-step back toward reality.
What they found at Soteria House was that the
healing process was lengthy. It took sometimes one to two years of being in
an environment that was quiet and calm, and where they were shown love. More
than 70% of the patients that were taken in at Soteria House got better to
the point that they were able to reenter society in a normal capacity, and
did not have any relapse. In the world of psychiatry, that is an unheard-of
percentage of success.
Unfortunately, this was very threatening to the
American Psychiatric Association and to the pharmaceutical industry that was
manufacturing all these drugs, and they shut it down.
I think that story is a very powerful illustration
of what love can do, even just human love. I believe that God is doing the
same thing with us. Those patients that were brought into Soteria House were
not chosen because they were the best and the brightest. They were actually
at the end of their rope. They were at the very bottom of the pile. And we
have not been chosen because we are the best and the brightest. God says
that he has not called the great of this world, but he’s called the weak, in
order that his power might be shown. It says that God commends his love
toward us in that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. So when we,
who are the weak of the world, were alienated from God – sinners – Christ
died for us. And God first showed his love toward us through that. And then,
we read that Christ said to the disciples, “I will not leave you alone, but
I will send you the comforter”. He said, “I will never leave you, nor
forsake you”. And just like those companions at Soteria House were with the
patients twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, constantly - they never
left them - Christ promises that he will never leave us. And we have the
Holy Spirit dwelling in us. God the Father and Jesus Christ dwell in us
through the Holy Spirit. Jesus called the Holy Spirit a comforter. The love
of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit
is symbolized in scripture sometimes by oil. Typically, in our experience in
the church, olive oil has been used when anointing somebody, and praying
over them asking for physical healing. Olive oil is a healing agent. I
believe that’s why the Bible uses oil a lot of times as a symbol of the Holy
Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is an agent of healing.
Let’s turn to Luke chapter 4, verse 18. This is the
occasion where Jesus was at the synagogue, and he stood up to read from the
book of Isaiah.
Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me,
because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent
me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and
recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
It’s an interesting turn of phrase there, “to heal
the brokenhearted”. One of the terms that came up when I was discussing this
message with my wife, when we were talking about the people that are in the
church of God groups now. The phrase that my wife used was “the walking
wounded”. The world that we live in in general is a hostile place, in many
ways. You compare where we live here in America with many parts of the
world, and it’s pretty peaceful. We don’t typically have to worry about
getting shot at, or that type of thing, although crimes do happen. But in
general we lead fairly peaceable lives, and yet at the same time the world
is not a friendly place. It is a world that is driven by competition, and
all you have to do to see how hostile and aggressive people are is just get
out on the road and drive.
I was talking to the group last night at dinner
about the drive that we had coming from LA. We were on the 15, and I guess
because it was a Friday afternoon and we were on the road to Vegas, was
probably a lot of the reason why people were driving the way they were.
Apparently there were some people that just could not wait to get to Vegas
to give the casinos some of their money. I’ve driven the freeways in LA,
which are the most congested in the world, and San Diego traffic can be bad
sometimes. I have never experienced driving like I experienced yesterday,
where people were just driving right up on your bumper, to where you think
they’re going to get in the trunk of your car, or swerving over suddenly in
front of you, cutting you off and forcing you to hit your brakes. But this
is just typical of the spirit of this world.
People in general are hurting. People in general
have a lot of pain in their heart, and carry a lot of pain around inside of
them. Some experts believe that as many as 25% of the population are on
antidepressants. Some people think it’s higher than that. One thing I’ve
noticed about the church of God groups is that we seem to be affected in the
same proportion as the world is affected. In other words, if 5% of the
population are alcoholics, probably about 5% of the people in the church of
God groups are alcoholics. Now, you might think “well, I don’t know any,
I’ve been in the church and I don’t know anybody that’s an alcoholic.”
Believe me, they’re there. They just don’t advertise it. My wife went to
lunch last week with a friend of hers who she has recently begun to get to
know, who attends one of the large splinter groups of the Worldwide Church
of God. This woman began to open up to my wife a little bit, and she’s a
recovering alcoholic. You wouldn’t have thought it.
My point is that we have a lot of the same hurts
that the people in the world do. We have people in the church of God groups
that came from abusive families, where they were molested, or where their
parents were alcoholics, and that has an effect on people. All of our hearts
have been damaged. We all are in need of healing to a certain degree, and
part of what God’s doing with us is healing those wounds and those hurts.
There’s a passage that talks about the Millennium, where it says that God
will wipe away all tears, and all sorrow and sighing shall flee away. God’s
in the process of doing that with us. Of course, God is doing more than just
that, he’s developing his righteous character in us as well. The Holy Spirit
is working in us to heal us.
I talked briefly about how the doctors do not
understand the human mind. They don’t know what they’re dealing with. Prior
to World War One, when a woman would have a mental breakdown, the doctors
referred to it as hysteria. The reason they called it hysteria is because
they thought it was something of biological origin having to do with
internal female reproductive organs. “Hysteria” comes from the same root
word as “hysterectomy”. Imagine the doctor’s surprise when, after World War
One, our soldiers coming back from the war were exhibiting the exact same
symptoms that these women were exhibiting that they had called hysteria. The
soldiers were suffering from trauma. Today we call it post-traumatic stress
syndrome. They were traumatized.
Different people have different thresholds to what
they can handle, in terms of trauma. What traumatizes one person may not
traumatize another. I believe, and this is based on a lot of research, and
the fact that someone who was very close to me spent a lot of time in a
mental hospital. I researched this, and I tried to figure out how to help
this person. I came to the conclusion that people who have mental
breakdowns, whether they’re diagnosed as bipolar, or schizophrenia, or
schizoaffective – there’s a whole host of names that they come up with for
people who have mental breakdowns. I came to the conclusion that the
majority of them have been traumatized by something that has pushed them
past the ability of their mind to handle it, and the mind turns inward.
Read with me, if you would, a passage in Proverbs
Proverbs 18:14: “The spirit of a man will sustain
his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?”
If you get sick or hurt, you know that you can get
well, if you put yourself in the right environment. If you bind up the
wounds, use some disinfectant, put something on it to help it heal, you know
it’s going to heal up. You can handle that. If you get the flu, you know
that if you drink plenty of liquids and get some rest, you’re going to get
I believe that the spirit in us can be wounded,
hurt, damaged by things that happen to us, and sometimes we get pushed
beyond the capacity of what we can bear.
At the beginning of the Millennium, there are going
to be a lot of people that are suffering from post-traumatic stress
syndrome. These are going to be people that have gone through the great
tribulation, God’s wrath, the plagues. They’re going to need our love, our
comfort, to help them recover. We’re going to be part of that process of
wiping away all tears.
I think what this means for us now is not just that
we have this hope in the future, that God’s going to use us that way to help
others, but I think we need to look for opportunities and ways to help other
people now. I don’t mean by that that we need to go searching out people and
trying to stick our nose into their business, find out what their problems
are. I’m saying that as we have opportunity, to do good unto all men.
We don’t realize sometimes how much just a kind
word can mean to somebody who’s hurting. I know people in the church who
have gone through severe depression, and who have even attempted suicide.
They’ve told me that one of the things that made it difficult for them was
that no one offered anything. Not a single person ever said “Hey, you look
like maybe you’re down a little bit. Is there anything I can do? If you ever
need anybody to talk to, I’m here for you.” That ought not to be!
I grew up in Pasadena. My folks came into the
Worldwide Church of God when I was five. I attended Imperial School till I
was in the tenth grade, when the school closed. Later I went to Ambassador
College. Throughout that whole time, my father was dying. I don’t have time
in this message to go into all the details, but he had some physical
problems that were incurable, and his health slowly declined over a period
of about twenty-two years. When I was a teenager, it was to the point where
he was pretty much an invalid. I lived with this, and I can tell you that
it’s very difficult on family members to be around somebody that’s that
sick. I needed help. I was a kid, and when you’re a teenager you think that
the environment that you’re in is normal. You may not like it, you may feel
distress, but you don’t really realize the extent of it until you become an
adult and you look back on it later. As an adult looking back on it, I
realize that that was a very difficult situation to be in. The thing that
struck me was, even though I was brought up at “God’s headquarters”, and I
went to Imperial School, which was the instrument of the church, and I went
to Ambassador College, I never had a single teacher, minister, or
administrator during that time ever offer me any help. My father was well
known in the church. What he was going through was well known, the health
problems that he was going through were spoken of from the pulpit numerous
times. People were asked to pray for him. Not a single person ever said “Hey
Dave, that must be really tough on you. Do you need anything? Is there
anything we can do to help? Do you need somebody to talk to?” I ascribe part
of that to just ignorance. There was a lot of empathy for my dad, but people
didn’t realize how it affects the family members.
Part of it is simply that we have not exhibited the
fruit of love enough in the church of God. I should say the churches of God.
The church of God is those who are led by the spirit of God, and I believe
that those who are led by the spirit of God will exhibit love.
If somebody that we know needs our help, we should
offer it. Again, I don’t want to imply that we should be going around
looking for people’s problems and sticking our nose where it doesn’t belong,
but sometimes an opportunity presents itself where there’s somebody that you
know well, and you know them well enough to know that they’re having a
problem or difficulties. Aside from that, just in our everyday lives and our
interactions with other people, we ought to be kind. We ought to show love.
And sometimes, just a kind word can make all the difference in a person’s
day, or even in their perspective on life.
Jesus says that we are the salt of the earth. We
are to let our light shine.
Turn with me to 1 John chapter 2.
1 John 2:7: “Brethren, I write no new commandment
unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning.”
The old commandment is what Jesus quoted when he
was asked “what is the great commandment?” He said that the first one is to
love God with all your being, and the second is like unto it, to love your
neighbor as yourself. So we had this commandment from the beginning.
1 John 2:7-8: “The old commandment is the word
which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write
unto you –“
Jesus said to his disciples, “I give you a new
commandment, that you love one another”.
1 John 2:8-11: “…Which thing is true in him and in
you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that
saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until
now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none
occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness,
and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that
darkness hath blinded his eyes.”
I mentioned before the phrase “the walking
wounded”. The sad thing to me is not just that we in the churches of God are
affected by the society that we have all grown up in, just like people in
the world are. What really saddens me is that some of the wounds that we
carry with us are inflicted by people who are in and part of the church of
God groups. Sometimes it’s by those who are the so-called ministers of those
groups. I think that hurts even more because these are people that we
thought we could trust. These are people that are supposed to be looking out
for us. I think it is an apt description to say that in many cases, the
people in the church of God groups are the walking wounded. We all can tell
stories of things that have been done to us, in the course of being
associated with the church of God groups.
The final thought that I want to leave you with is
this. One of the ways in which we can heal from these hurts and wounds is by
loving other people. When you go out of your way to try to help somebody
else, it not only helps them but it helps you. Love is in fact the way to
heal not only others, but ourselves, by showing love.
I’m in the field of sales, and one of the sayings
we have in sales is “No one cares how much you know until they know how much
you care”. As Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 13, even if we knew
everything about prophecy, and even if we had all knowledge, if we don’t
have love, what good is it? If we want to affect, in a positive way, the
people around us, if we want to be shining lights, if we want to be the salt
of the earth, if we want to preach the gospel, the first thing is, we have
to love the people around us. Because until they know how much we care, they
don’t care how much we know.
In conclusion, I just want to paraphrase what Jesus
said to his disciples: “By this shall all men know that you are my
disciples, that you love one another”.