You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
The compassion of Christ compels the Church to be concerned for people battered and bruised by this world and its sin. Whether the problems they are experiencing result directly from personal disobedience or the disobedience of others, God calls the Church to help others in their times of need.
The first ministry concern of the church must be the proclamation and witness to the world of the Person and work of Christ. Everyone in the world needs to know that Christ has died for his sins and that if he repents and turns to God in faith he can be saved. All real healing, especially emotional healing, must be coupled with the announcement of the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. In addition to the ministry of witness and proclamation Christ has called and equipped His people to be involved in a healing influence in society from the impact of sin upon this planet.
The Old Testament concept of total healing is also picked up in the New Testament grace gifts to the church. In the 1 Corinthians 12 passage on spiritual gifts, God spoke of xarismata iamaton, the literal translation of which is “gifts of healings”, and not “gifts of healing” as in the NIV. This suggests a variety of gifts and expressions of Gospel power in this rather broad category of spiritual giftedness, and, therefore, the church enjoys all sorts of healing powers and applications including healing people from emotional damage, sin-wreck lives, and unjust social problems (Malachi 4:6) – the heart of which is always the spiritual problem of relationship with God.
Since when the Bible speaks of the Messianic victory over disease, it speaks in terms of total victory and complete healing, the Church should be concerned with everything that represents sickness and infirmity today, whether physical, social, emotional, or spiritual. I had wondered in writing this chapter whether it would have been better to say “the Christian’s concern” rather than “the Church’s concern.” The very phrase “the Church’s concern” may lead some to assume I am suggesting that each church should adopt a series of official positions on each of these issues, some of which are very complex and complicated problems. I am not. We must return to the basic New Testament teaching, that the Church is the people and not the leadership. God leads the Church, the people, out into the world to do His will and wherever a Christian finds opportunity to express the will and love of God for a lost world, there the Church is at work. In fact, if there is ever a perceived difference between what concerns the Christian and what concerns the Church then we have gotten off track somewhere in our understanding of the nature of the Christian life and the Church.
In some situations and with regard to some issues, churches can adopt positions and programs can be instituted in churches, but in today’s increasing technological advancements, the average individual would have a difficult time following all the arguments of scientists. Even well educated pastors can be easily lost in some of the discussions about gene-therapy, birth control, and even psychological illnesses. Into many fields official church positions cannot go with specificity and it is the responsibility of individual Christians working in those fields to do the right thing. This would also apply to such issues as fighting poverty and pollution, issues laden with political and economic concerns. Whereas we Christians may all agree in principle that we are against poverty and pollution, sickness and crime, corruption and emotional abuse, sincere believers often find themselves on opposite sides of proposed solutions to these issues.
Since all New Testament healings were fundamentally encounters with Christ, we should use all such opportunities to offer healing as opportunities to share Christ. Whatever types of healings from the legacies of sin people might experience, in the central core of the event must be Christ. Healing does not replace proclamation and witness, nor can it. But let’s avoid the thought that since proclamation is the ultimate aim of the healing event that the healing itself is insignificant. Healings are not “bribes” to get people saved. They are God’s expression and disclosure of Himself, His compassion and power, that become part and parcel of the unveiling of Christ Jesus to a lost individual and a world caught up in the spirit of selfishness. The gospel in some way is being proclaimed in the healing event itself, but the revelation of Christ must not stop there. All healings should eventually bring the person and the community to understand something genuine and significant about Christ that exalts Him and encourages faith in Him. Christ must loom larger, sooner or later, than the healing itself.
Several years ago when my wife and I served in the Philippines our mission supported a hospital in the town of Mati, Davao Oriental, Mindanao. The hospital had not only been effective in treating diseases but also in evangelizing the area and the hospital evangelist reported their recorded conversions every year to the mission. One missionary did simple math to determine how much the hospital converts cost per dollar spent and compared it with other evangelistic methods. His recommendation was that we should close the hospital since we could make converts more cheaply with other methods. He misunderstood the nature of Christian mercy works.
As Christians our goal in doing acts of healings is not merely to win converts in a crass, “bottom line” type of way. We are giving a witness of the love of God through meeting the needs of others. John the Apostle asked, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (1 John 3:17) The parable of the Good Samaritan vividly illustrates the point as well (Luke 10:25-37). We never find out what happened to the man who the Samaritan helped, whether he became a follower of God or what. The Samaritan had no thought that he should somehow show a return on his investment in time and energy in showing mercy to the man. His attitude was: here is an injured man, what can I do to help? In fact, in Christ’s story, it was the Levite and the priest who revealed that type of attitude – a sort of perverted paraphrase of Nehemiah’s words to Sanballat: I am involved in a great work and I don’t have time to come down and help you. Affirming the risky, dangerous display of neighborly love of the Samaritan, Christ commanded us to “Go and do likewise.” We are to treat others graciously and mercifully according to our power, ability, resources, and opportunities.
Let’s identify some key categories where sin’s damaging legacy has marred human life and where those who know Christ as Savior and Lord should be concerned about bringing healing. An exhaustive list is impossible, but some groupings should be named.
The Church should be concerned about social sicknesses. Social injustices, human poverty, lack of education, the spread of crime, prostitution, drug addictions, all of these should be the Church’s concerns. The gifts of God to the Church are meant not only to build up the Church through ministering to fellow believers but also to reach out and
touch a hurting and lost world through Jesus Christ. The Church’s responsibility to help people begins with the family of faith but does not end there. The example of the Good Samaritan teaches us to care for those in need with radical, dangerous, and extravagant compassion, even if they are not believers in Christ. Our care for them and help to them should also include sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I was raised in the Southern United States in the days of racial segregation between Black and White. In those days I heard good people often argue for segregation, not only in schools, neighborhoods, and life in general, but in church attendance as well. The common phrase used was, “They do better at taking care of their own than we do,” or words to that effect. In hindsight I believe that phrase alone revealed a conscience pricked by the Holy Spirit seeking to justify itself, its inaction and continued apathy. The White majority in those days segregated the Black minority in certain areas of towns, cordoned them off, sometimes legally, always socially, and branded them inferior. The feeling was that the Golden Rule, “As you would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,” had racial, social, and even geographic boundaries.
How wrong we were. Thank God that those dark days of spiritual ignorance and prejudice are passing away. Some of my best Christian friends over the years have been African Americans and I have been most blessed to learn from them and most privileged to share my faith and serve Our Lord with them. If anyone was ignorant and inferior in those days of segregation it must have been the white majority, especially the churches, that failed to see African Americans as people, made in God’s image and worthy of all the dignity and respect that we can give them. The love of Christ for all people compels us to reach out in Christian love to them all. All human beings, regardless of race, are made in the image of God and are worthy of respect, dignity, and acceptance. Each human being needs to know the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Poverty is a complicated and complex problem involving not only social prejudices but worldviews and personal habits as well. Having spent several years serving in both inner-city missions in the United States and in Third World missions overseas I am well acquainted with the difficulties and the challenges. The words of Christ, “You will always have the poor among you” (John 12:8), were not meant to discourage us from helping but to teach us that this should be a continual concern to believers. Looking at the teachings in the Mosaic Law concerning the poor and blending these with New Testament teachings we can summarize the duty of the Church toward the poor in the following concepts.
· We should be willing to share with the poor to help alleviate needs of hunger, shelter, clothing, medical treatment – the basic physical needs of human life. (Leviticus 19:9-10; Luke 10:37; 1 John 3:17-18)
· We should help those who are poor to receive the respect and dignity they deserve as human beings created in the image of God, to be treated fairly in the courts and to be treated fairly by his employer. (Exodus 23:6; Deuteronomy 24:14-15; Psalm 72:4; Colossians 4:1; James 2:5-7)
· We should help them leave their poverty by providing them with access to what they need to do so, education, business loans, and employment opportunities. (Leviticus 25:35; James 2:8-9)
· We should not treat them any differently in Church or look down on them as though they were inferior, but value them as our dear Christian brothers and sisters. (Psalm 34:6; Romans 12:16; Colossians 3:11; James 1:9-11, 2:1-4)
· We should carry on a ministry of Christian instruction and encouragement to them, preaching the gospel to them, helping them to stand on their own feet spiritually and emotionally as well as financially. (Colossians 3:22-25; 1 Peter 2:18-25)
Helping the poor is not an easy task and churches have often worked cooperatively to help address the real needs of the poor in certain areas of cities. Sometimes poor people have taken advantage of Christian compassion as at the church at Thessalonica and it is not acceptable for a church to naively and blindly continue to “help” someone who is taking advantage of their compassion. Such “help” is really no help at all and only allows and sometimes even enables someone to continue in his way of life. Yet we need to be compassionate and should not let a bad experience turn us into total skeptics.
A balanced approach to helping the poor is generally most effective. To really make a difference we need to do two things: to financially support people and ministries involved in providing care to the financially less fortunate and to be personally involved in a meaningful way ourselves. The “professional” helper will know better how to evaluate the people’s needs and situations, but yet we cannot merely pay someone to be compassionate for us. Each Christian can be involved in some way through voluntarily assisting and through looking out for the poor around him.
Virtually each of us knows someone who is financially hurting. In my years of ministry I have seen church members find a variety of ways to help others. One of my church members ran a produce company, supplying fresh produce to restaurants. He would regularly look for poor people in the church to help, dropping off some produce at their houses, giving people down and out a chance to work for him and better their situation. The Church must fulfill this command through the personal actions of its members as well as through official church programs to help the poor.
With regard to substance abuse, the Church should help people caught in this shameful and degrading lifestyle. Again, like with the poor, these people are very difficult to help and virtually all progress is gained only in the face of much frustration and frequent failures. Like poverty, I would advise that Churches should financially support those healing ministries, such as Christian half-way houses, where skilled and experienced counselors can help addicts. But, like poverty, we cannot merely pay someone to be compassionate for us; we must also look for opportunities to express our concerns through personal action.
What about a Christian brother who is caught in some addiction? What should we do with him? Romans 14:1-4 teaches us to lovingly accept and help those “weaker brothers” and not cast them off as worthless. The only requirement on their part is that they be sincerely repentant over their weakness, admitting it as sin. And we should stand beside them in compassion and patience seeking to help them to become free from this addiction. Is the Church an army that shoots its wounded? Are we not called to help and lift up and encourage and heal?
The Church should be concerned about emotional sicknesses. Guilt, anxiety, depression, family disharmony, marriage/divorce, conflict resolution, these also are the Church’s concerns. Like poverty, these problems are widespread and not easy to resolve. The Church should offer both preventative help and redemptive help. We should be there before the first symptom of a problem ever occurs and we should be there as well after the storm of trouble has passed over the person or the family, helping them to pick up the pieces of their lives and start again.
But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12:24b-26
It seems a terrible tragedy that in Church, the place of all places where we ought to feel free to be the most honest, we often are afraid to share with others our real thoughts and fears. The world can be a terrible, lonely place and God both calls and gifts Christians to reach out to those around us who are hurting. Several spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament describe those who help in these types of situations: service, encouragement, mercy, helps, and healings. Even when the emotional problems have developed as the result of personal sinful choices, the Church should be there to help people who have turned to the Lord be healed (Isaiah 6:10).
These five gifts are described in various ways by Bible scholars and teachers, yet the Lord did not give us very much information to work with in terms of Scriptural text in describing these gifts in detail. I think it is more helpful to see them as sharing general common ground than trying to split hairs over the precise differences between them. The call of God for the church to be compassionate is a commanding voice for all our priorities as God’s people.
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself … Romans 15:1-3a
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32
“Bearing with the failings of the weak” and “building others up according to their needs” is a good description of helping those with emotional problems.
Prevention ministries are important. Healthy marriages and parent-child relationships are key concerns for the church today. With the escalation of divorce and the misery that divorce brings with it, the Church must offer help to people in need. Pre-marital counseling for engaged couples is a step of preventative care. Presenting helpful information on how to raise Godly children, both through classes and through family counseling serves is increasingly needed in today’s world.
The prophet Malachi described divorce as “violence” and God threatened to strike the earth with a curse if the hearts of the fathers and the hearts of their children would not be turned back to one another. The impact divorce has upon society is well documented and staggeringly devastating. Children whose parents have gone through divorce are almost always plagued with lifelong feelings of insecurity, they do not do as well in school, they often have difficulty in establishing healthy relationships with others, and it is not unusual for long term serious emotional problems to arise.
The Heritage Foundation has made the following observations about the effects of divorce on children.
Mounting evidence in the annals of scientific journals details the plight of the children of divorce and clearly indicates not only that divorce has lasting effects, but that these effects spill over into every aspect of life. For example:
· Children whose parents have divorced are increasingly the victims of abuse and neglect. They exhibit more health problems, as well as behavioral and emotional problems, are involved more frequently in crime and drug abuse, and have higher rates of suicide.
· Children of divorced parents more frequently demonstrate a diminished learning capacity, performing more poorly than their peers from intact two-parent families in reading, spelling, and math. They also are more likely to repeat a grade and to have higher drop-out rates and lower rates of college graduation.
· Divorce generally reduces the income of the child’s primary household and seriously diminishes the potential of every member of the household to accumulate wealth. For families that were not poor before the divorce, the drop in income can be as much as 50 percent. Moreover, decline in income is intergenerational, since children whose parents divorce are likely to earn less as adults than children raised in intact families.
· Religious worship, which has been linked to health and happiness as well as longer marriages and better family life, is less prevalent in divorced families.
…The effects of divorce are immense. The research shows not only that it permanently weakens the relationship between a child and his or her parents, but also that it leads to destructive ways of handling conflict and a poorer self-image. Children of divorce demonstrate an earlier loss of virginity, more cohabitation, higher expectations of divorce, higher divorce rates later in life, and less desire to have children. These effects on future family life perpetuate the downward spiral of family breakdown.
Divorce, both the prevention and the healing of individuals from its devastating effects, are issues that the church must address in today’s world. Western society is in a downward spiral as divorce creates more divorce in the future. Caring adults need to step into the void and pain of children’s lives and help them face the future with hope and confidence.
We do not abuse the gospel stories of miraculous physical healings to give them an emotional and spiritual application today, for surely they announce the arrival of Messianic healings. In 1 Peter we have a clear admonition for this age (taken from Psalm 34) that, if we follow, will bring us life and good days.
Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. 1 Peter 3:10-12
The contexts of the Davidic psalm and of the life of mid-first century Christians shared the fact of inequities and injustices, as ours does today. The affirmation that the Lord delivers the righteous man from his troubles (Psalm 34:19) was no less true for Peter, or for you and I, than for David. The passage encourages the people of God to bear up under injustices without becoming embittered. Our ultimate deliverance will come after death, exactly the one we genuinely need and earnestly desire. All other earthly deliverances are mere testimonies to that ultimate healing and deliverance. (See also Philippians 1:19-21.)
The emotional healing that is depicted in 1 Peter 3:8-22 involves forgiveness, sympathetic understanding, faith in God, avoidance of fear and worry, study and clear thinking, keeping a clear conscience (or avoiding those things that produce guilt), avoidance of bitterness, acceptance of suffering, and reflection upon the sufferings of Christ – all of which have been known to help produce emotional healing. The sure promise of heaven is a necessary part of Christian emotional healing today, removing the fear of death as well as giving us a taste of God’s power and glory.
The Church should be concerned about international and intercultural relationships. War, prejudice, the plight of refugees, hatred between races, these also are concerns for the Church. Whereas I believe there is a case in Scripture for a Christian to be able to participate in a just war, not every problem between nations and people can be resolved on the battlefield. War should be an absolute last resort, taken only when all other avenues of resolving grievances have been exhausted. The old hymns were filled with the Christian hopes that wars shall cease. Most of these hymns point with hopeful anticipation to the future, to the return of Christ, such as,
Crown Him the Lord of peace,
Whose pow’r a scepter sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease,
And all be prayer and praise:
His reign shall know no end,
And round His pierced feet
Fair flow’rs of paradise extend
Their fragrance ever sweet.
But in the meantime, as we await His return, Christ has called us to be peacemakers, “For they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9), and we pray, work, and hope for peace.
The Church should be concerned about ecological issues. Pollution, global warming, sewage, healthy farming methods, the overfishing of the oceans, even such issues as the protection of animals and the use of fossil fuels are concerns for the Church. Typically these are issues that Christians and churches shy away from. Often they become the domain of unchristian organizations and sometimes even anti-Christian groups. Certainly the animal-rights activists are often off base on several perspectives, but yet, if we read the Bible, yes, the humane and ethical treatment of animals is taught there (Exodus 23:5,12; Deut. 22:4,6-7; 25:4; Prov. 12:10). Concerned Christians must step into these areas and help to offer godly solutions. The other alternative is that only non-Christians would offer solutions for these issues.
As stated at the beginning of this section, by saying “the Church’s concerns” I am not advocating that each of these issues should become official programs for each church. They are too many to do that, although some most certainly could and should be. But I am advocating that these are issues where each Christian should be concerned and as God sends Christians out into society, working in a variety of roles and professions, we can and must stand for what is right as the Word and Spirit of the Lord leads us.
Healing from Diseases and Infirmities
The issue of physical healing is also a concern for the Church. We addressed many causes of physical illnesses in the section above as we discussed such things as poverty and pollution. In this section we will look directly at healing for the sick.
The Church should be involved in medical treatment of physical ills. Christians have been involved through the centuries in treating physical illnesses, expressing the love of Christ for the physically ill. Even in the development of medical cures we see His hand of influence. The modern hospital, as we know it today, is largely a contribution of Christianity that took seriously the concerns of Christ for the sick. Even today, in many places of the world, missionaries and mission hospitals are the last link between sickness and death for many. But, in developed nations as well the Church should be concerned with providing healing through medical treatment for poor and needy individuals. To become a physician or be involved in another health care profession is a worthy thing to choose as one’s life work.
Since many, if not most diseases are caused by poverty, ignorance, and malnutrition, the church should be involved in health education and vocational education that can help people know better how to treat illnesses and how to leave their poverty. Many missionaries and health workers in poor nations have acknowledged that without health education for the people doctors will treat the same people for the same diseases over and over again. Meaningful solutions to health problems must involve health education – covering such subjects as first aid and nutrition – and vocational training, usually in the area of better farming methods and instructing in vocational skills.
The Church should pray for the sick. In James 5:13-16 God emphasized the obligation of the church to pray for the sick. This, like Isaiah 53:5, is an important passage to understand our responsibility toward the sick today.
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:13-16
James urged those who were sick or had sinned to ask church leaders to pray for them. He placed the initiation of this request in the hands of the sick. This admonition does not forbid us from making an unrequested visit, but it calls for sensitivity on our part to the wishes and desires of those ill.
The phrase “anoint him with oil” (James 5:14) has been interpreted by most Evangelicals to refer to applying medicine rather than indicating some type of religious ceremony involving oil. Oil was a common medicine of that day, mentioned, for example, in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:34). The word translated “anoint” in this passage is significant (5:14). Chrio, the common word for religious anointing, was not used, rather aleipho was used and means anointing in general, putting one thing on another. We find this word in Matt. 6:17, describing putting oil on the hair for personal grooming and in Luke 7:38 when Jesus’ feet were anointed with perfume. The Greek word chrio carried a distinctly religious and sacred connotation, but aleipho carried no such distinctly religious identity. James seemed to be describing the application of medicine and not some religious ceremony.
James reminded believers that intercessory prayers offered in faith are powerful and effective, not the oil. Christian faith stands in contrast to the meaningless rituals of other religions in which certain elements are believed by the devotees to contain mystical and magical power. The idea that oil can serve as a source of magical healing is clearly an unchristian concept. “The prayer offered in faith” is what God will use to heal, not some religious ritual. All medical treatment should be offered “in the name of the Lord” (5:14). Like the Good Samaritan, we ought to offer and seek medical treatment when sickness comes. All healing is miraculous healing and if we have faith in the medical treatment it is because we have faith in God and the natural laws He put in place at creation and maintains to this day.
Note the positive force of this passage – God heals today! Often healing is not experienced because the people of God (1) do not pray at all; (2) try to pray with unconfessed sin; (3) pray selfishly; (4) pray without faith; and (5) pray alone, not with others. James made the point that the prayer of a righteous man, such as Elijah, is powerful and effective, but part of the intent of his epistle is to bring the people to unity of purpose and sharing of ministry. If we try to dismiss this entire passage and suggest that it has no meaning for us today, we are in error. The clear teaching of the Bible, in James 5 and 1 Corinthians 11, is that some physical healing is available for Christians and churches today! And that healing requires faith on our part to experience.
While acknowledging that it is not always God’s will to heal we should not hesitate to faithfully pray and pray in faith for healing. If we ascribe sin as the cause of every sickness and doubt as the reason for every lack of healing we will certainly turn into judgmental, condemnatory, hypocritical people. While personal sin causes some sickness and doubt prevents some healing that God offers, we cannot assume that every case is like this. We must, however, be certain to pray in faith for the sick. We should come to the aid of the sick person like we had just left five minutes earlier the occasion when Jesus healed someone miraculously, with full confidence of faith. If this is true for every physical illness it is also true of every emotional illness and spiritual problem – even demon possession. We can come to people scarred and marred by the sin of this world with full confidence that God can heal that person.
I have heard it said that faith is not believing that God can act but believing that God will act. I like part of that sentence, yet it also lends itself to be misunderstood. Faith is trusting in God’s love, His mercy, His power, His capacity to act, and, with regard to physical infirmities, faith is the trust that God shall, in His time and His way, put an end to all sickness. In that sense, faith is believing that God will act, but faith also trusts that when He remains silent or we cannot see His action that God’s heart toward us has not changed. His action remains in the future. As the prophet Habakkuk said,
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18
 William D. Mounce, The Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, 1993. Iamaton was also used in 1 Cor. 12:28, 30
 I have known some to fight for the poor man’s economic advancement by seeking to lessen the pollution standards of some greenhouse gasses for the sake of employment.
 See Deut. 15:11
 Malachi 2:16
 Malachi 4:6 – If Israel did not repent God threatened to strike the land (eretz) with a curse, dealing with Israel as He had with Edom bringing total destruction. See Mal. 1:4.
 Patrick Fagan and Robert Rector, “The Effects of Divorce on America,” published by The Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, D.C.
 Matthew Bridges, “Crown Him with Many Crowns”.
 I prefer the words “protection of animals” rather than “animal rights”. The latter seems to suggest an elevation of the status of animals and a demoting of the status of humans.
 We readily admit that there are many non-Christian doctors and nurses and that many hospitals are run by secular and even atheistic states. Other religions had their influences as well, but it is inconceivable to imagine the existence of the modern hospital as we know it today, and thereby modern medicine, without the influence of Christians. Historically it was Christians, monastic orders often, who set up hospitals. See Encyclopedia Britannica, “Hospitals”, online version.