One of the techniques used to produce vaccines utilizes weakened viruses. The virus is partially killed off so that it can’t fully attack us. We are then inoculated with this weakened virus. Our immune system is thus able to combat this counterfeit, weakened form. This allows our immune system to build up a resistance against the real virus. We are thus immunized against the disease.
While this approach works well against infectious diseases, it becomes a disaster when it is applied to our life of faith. How easy is it for us to accept a weakened form of faith in our daily lives? Much easier than we might expect! Dietrich Bonhoeffer called this cheap grace. It is a form that has very little impact on our lives. It can be very easy to live our day to day lives without thinking much about God and how He would have us live. The faith we exhibit during our attendance at church on Sunday, for instance, may have little impact on us the other six days of the week. Our Monday through Saturday lives would be much the same, whether God is dead or alive. It allows us to be religious without having a deep desire to know God. It can become easy to have the attitude that we are doing as much as everyone else in the church. We can think that by teaching Sunday School, leading Bible studies, or being on church committees, etc. it is enough. Cheap grace has become the heresy that has infected the church in our times.
But when we look at the demands of Jesus we see something totally different. Jesus calls us to radical obedience, a complete transformation as we give Him our total allegiance. He asks for a total commitment of our lives. He desires us to be completely centered on Him. He wants us to experience authentic Christianity twenty-four seven.
But all too often we give him less. We hold back areas of our lives. We prefer a weakened form of faith that doesn’t demand too much of us. We don’t want to give him lordship over our lives. We want to maintain some control. We are content to live with less. Our prayers may be something like “God, I will follow you, except if you ask me to ….” When we do this we immunize ourselves against authentic Christianity. We don’t really want to catch the real thing.
But Jesus calls us to be infected by him. He seeks to change our spiritual cellular DNA. He wants us to live incarnational lives. As others observe how we live our lives they should see Jesus. We are to live such that even non Christians will praise God as they observe our lives. They should see Christ in us. But this requires a willingness to commit ourselves to living authentic Christian lives, sold out to Jesus Christ. It requires living a life of holiness, constantly growing closer and closer to our Lord. It demands that we care for and serve others with a Christ-like compassion and love. This we cannot do if we have a weakened form of faith. If we have been immunized against true faith we cannot have much of an impact upon others. We cannot easily infect others if we have not been infected ourselves. We will only immunize them against authentic Christianity. Upon reflection, it raises an interesting question. Have I been immunized against the authentic Christian faith or have I caught the real thing?