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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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THE CHURCH’S ABLE DEFENSES

Did you hear about Felix the hypochondriac? When he died at age 96, his tombstone read, "I told you I was sick." Sickness is a real threat to people. Dr. Paul Brand writes, "At the cellular level, massive warfare is a daily fact of life. Fifty thousand invaders may lurk on the rim of a drinking glass, and a billion can be found in a half tea-spoon of saliva. Bacteria enshroud my body — every time I wash my hands I sluice five million of them from the folds of my skin." Brand warns that while we need protection from bacterial agents that could do us harm, our efforts to defend ourselves may become extreme and harmful. After noting that we live in vivid awareness of germs, he continues, "Astute promoters market disinfectants to sterilize our environment, but too often the germ-killer, merely a cell-killer, also destroys the body's good cells. Today we need better publicity for our bodies' able defenses and perhaps less fear of germs — the average American household is in more danger from chemical germ-killers than from germs. I prefer to leave the battle to my own cells" ( Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: copyright 1980 by Paul Brand and Philip Yancey; pp 18-19). Brand's point is that normally the body is well equipped and well able to defend itself.

There is a lesson for the church in Brand's words. Today we live in vivid awareness of constant spiritual threats to the faith and practice of the New Testament church. We are well aware that we need protection from false teachers and spiritual germs who seek to infect the church with all kinds of evil beliefs and behaviors that would make her deathly sick if left unchecked. That is why Jude 3 instructs Christians to 'contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." We need to defend the faith when spiritual bacteria threaten the body of Christ! But could it be that what we need today, to adapt Brand's words, is "better publicity for the church's able defenses and perhaps less fear of spiritual germs?" Like our physical bodies, the church and the individual Christian have able defenses! Jude 17-25 reveals that our spiritual defenses include "the words spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, our most holy faith, prayer, and the love of God!." To all of this Jude adds, "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.  Amen." We need not fear the spiritual germs that surround us. The body of Christ has able defenses! Let us keep and defend the faith even as we keep faith in the God who is able to defend and keep us!

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ