"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" ( Romans 12:22)
LISTEN: The Sidewalk Prophets, "You Love Me Anyway"
Last week we finally got our flu vaccinations. In my lifetime, the flu went from being the annual week-in-bed sipping tea, theraflu or ginger ale to a now distant memory. While many still suffer and even die from the flue, it isn't the dreaded reoccurring illness it once was. Millions are vaccinated each year from diseases that used to run rampant -- polio, smallpox, measles, diptheria, pertussis, rabies, tetanus -- among others. These diseases that have been either eradicated, contained, or made manageable due to vaccinations. Smallpox alone was responsible for 300-500 million deaths in the 20th century. It was declared eradicated in 1979 due to widespread vaccination.
It is interesting how vaccinations work. Vaccines contain a dead, or weakened part of the germ, which stimulates our immune systems to produce antibodies -- special agents (so to speak) -- that are able to recognize and fight off the illness if it tries to sneak its way into our bodies. So disease is turned against itself in the battle for health.
Wouldn't it be amazing if we could develop vaccinations against some of the most persistent and deadly plagues of humanity? How about a greed vaccine? A hate/prejudice vaccine? Gun violence? As we're about to enter the materialistic season Christmas has become, wouldn't it be nice for everyone to get a anti-consumerist shot? Churches can inoculate its flocks against gossip and judging others. Corporations and government should get their annual inoculation against lying and stealing. Wouldn't it be cool to have oral vaccines we can drop in our morning coffee, juice or tea -- against impatience, laziness, meanness? If we fill a wave of unfaithfulness, stubbornness or closed-mindedness, coming on, we could whip out the needed anti venom dose. Imagine the lives that could be saved --- 241 million from war/effects of war in 20th century alone -- or kept from harm.
Because of the love of God in Jesus, we have been given spiritual vaccines. We are reminded in Romans 5:5 "...God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Our spiritual anti-bodies work differently. We are responsible to take booster doses throughout the day in response to what we face. We are called to prayer and self-examination, scripture, music, worship, service as means to keep ourselves spiritually healthy. When someone challenges us, we are given a choice to get ill spiritually (by complaining, gossiping, negative thinking) or to allow the hurt to create a auto-immune response of love, forgiveness or charity. Like the flue vaccine, which needs to be repeated yearly because of mutations in the germs, so we daily need our vaccines. We daily face troubles and revisit problems that keep changing! Slowly our resolve is strengthened and our spiritual eyes opened. We find ourselves facing issues with more patience and we turn to God more quickly. So used right, spiritual vaccines work -- subtly, powerfully, profoundly. Given the level of greed and sin in the world, it's a wonder life is still on earth. You know what --that's only because of those who consistently take their spiritual vaccines -- and can work to bring good and healing into the world as a result. Have you taken your vaccine today?
PRAY: "God, inoculate me by your Word and Spirit against all that would pull me away from you."