The Roseto Secret

Imagine a community where it is very hard to find anyone below 65 with heart problems. That’s the intriguing situation of the people of Roseto, an Italian town in Pennsylvania. “These people were dying of old age. That’s it.” (Source: Malcolm Gladwell, “Outliers: The Story of Success”) Fifty years ago, a breakthrough study of Roseto found something more intriguing. The Rosetans were not exactly health buffs. For example, they used animal lard for cooking instead of olive oil. In fact, “many were struggling with obesity.” (Ibid) DNA was not even the key. Their relatives who lived outside Roseto were not as healthy. It wasn’t even the weather in that hilly region of eastern Pennsylvania. Its nearby towns had worse health issues. The study found “that the secret of Roseto wasn’t diet or exercise or genes or location. It had to be Roseto itself. [They] had created a powerful, protective social structure capable of insulating them from the pressures of the modern world.(Ibid) In short, the community caused them to be healthy. Doctors “wouldn’t be able to understand why someone was healthy if all they did was think about an individual’s personal choices or actions in isolation. They had to look beyond the individual… that the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.(Ibid) Gladwell wisely concluded that, to succeed in life, we should keep in mind that “no one, not even a genius, ever makes it alone.(Ibid)

That’s also the key to a healthy church, spiritually speaking of course. To succeed in our spiritual journey, no one makes it alone. We are to grow together. We should look beyond our personal comfort zones and see ourselves in the context of the church. When we gather for worship on Sundays, for example, we should focus more on becoming channels of blessings to others and not just focus on being blessed. Like our Master, we should seek“not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45, ESV). In our corporate prayer meetings, we are to lift up the concerns of others more than ours. The problem nowadays is that we tend to treat worship as an individual activity and not as a corporate one. That’s why there are times we prefer to be anonymous in a big gathering rather than to make ourselves known in a small group. But Philippians 2:4 tells us, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Brethren, the church is our spiritual Roseto.


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