NORMAN — Flu season is here. Emergency rooms, clinics and doctor’s offices are filled with people seeking relief. News reports are using words like “epidemic” to describe this year’s flu season and some communities have closed their school doors for a few days. The flu is serious and can even be deadly, claiming at least 20 children and dozens of adults over these past weeks. Have you had your flu shot? While not a 100 percent guarantee, the flu shot offers significant prevention against the flu.
Vaccines are one of the marvels of modern medicine. While still controversial among some, the data demonstrates that vaccines have been vital in reducing and even eliminating death from measles, polio and other diseases. Now, cancer vaccines are offering the same hope. Vaccines introduce dead or “weakened” viruses into the body so that the natural immune system can recognize and attack them, thus being able to “remember” and destroy the live virus if it is introduced into the body.
While in the physical realm vaccines are life-saving, some suggest the opposite when applied to the spiritual realm. Dead or weakened religion has inoculated many against real or true religion. In many circles today, religion has become a “bad thing.” How many times have you heard or said, “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual?” Yet, James 1:27 declares “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: To look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” That sounds like a good thing. The problem is not with religion, the problem is with bad religion. And, when exposed to bad religion, it often serves as a “vaccine” against pure religion.
Unlike some medical vaccines, there is no shortage of bad religion vaccines. Religion that promotes legalism and meaningless ritualism is bad. So too is religion that embraces selfish consumerism, prideful arrogance and blatant hypocrisy. This kind of religion oppresses and may be part of the explanation as to why so many are avoiding church.