I don’t know about you but I have already had my first cold of the season. Not full-blown man flu, but unpleasant and draining nevertheless. So, as soon as I have shaken this virus off, I will be getting myself the latest flu vaccine so that hopefully I won’t have to endure anything worse than this over the winter.
Vaccines are funny things, aren’t they? We willingly allow a small part of an unpleasant disease to enter our bodies so that we develop the resistance to prevent us from getting the full-blown symptoms. Vaccinations were a stunning discovery and they have continued to save many thousands of lives each year, not just from the flu but from far more serious diseases as well.
But there is one vaccination that often ends up doing far more harm than good. And this time of year when we celebrate harvest, gather together for Remembrance Sunday and head towards Christmas, millions of people up and down the country turn up at church to get a small shot of Christianity which seems to harden their hearts against the full-blown version.
You see for many people Christianity is a terrible disease, something to be avoided like the flu or measles or the plague! They fear that catching full-blown Christianity would ruin their lives, rob them of joy, change their priorities, disrupt friendships and families and turn them into a shadow of the person they once were. They may sense that there is something real and true and vital within the Christian faith so they come along to church from time to time. But they come only to assuage their consciences and get vaccinated against the real thing.
Now of course there is a cost to becoming a Christian. Committing your whole life to Jesus, seeking to follow him as your Lord will mean change and sacrifice (see Mark 8:34-38) but the benefits and the joys of following Jesus far outweigh the costs. As we turn to Jesus in repentance and faith we receive God’s complete forgiveness and are welcomed into God’s family as his beloved children. And as we follow Jesus in this life we are promised God’s perfect peace filling our souls even when life is falling apart around us, we have a deep joy in our hearts even when life is hard, and for the Christian there is a glorious hope for eternity even as life comes to an end.
So as you contemplate your flu vaccination to keep your body healthy, make sure that you are not vaccinating yourself against Jesus. Instead, seek out the only true doctor of your soul and as you are born again you will find in Jesus the ‘life in all its fullness’ that he offers freely to all who come.