HEALING was not a secondary function in the ministry of Jesus. Everywhere he went he attended to the physical needs of people, as well as their spiritual needs. When Jesus sent out his disciples he gave them power and authority to cast out demons and heal diseases.

Today we become uneasy with the ways some people connect religion and health. The televangelist manner of healing, for example, preys on the ignorance and desperation of people. There have always been charlatans in the healing business. There is currently no shortage of chicanery in the "religion and health" field. Wherever we discover the limits of medical science, people tend to turn to superstitious and magical alternatives.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

Having voiced a warning about false and deceptive claims of healing, we must not overlook the fact that there is a close connection between faith and health. It is almost universally acknowledged, even among medical scientists and doctors who profess no religious faith, that faith is a factor in illness and health.

Faith is reduced to a pious abstraction if we separate it entirely from peoples' health and general well-being. A vital faith affects every area of life, including both physical and spiritual needs. It is instructive that Jesus essentially made no distinction between physical and spiritual healing.

Jesus frequently credited a person's physical healing to his or her faith.

"Your faith," he said, "has made you whole." The Great Physician is concerned about our wholeness - - that is, the health of the person, body and soul.