It was so nice to meet with my researcher friend after such a long time. For an unknown reason our last meeting took place many months ago. I expressed my frustration about this to my friend during our meeting. According to his habits he gave me acquittal. He told me that his own research activities took so much time and energy, that he hadn't time either to meet his friends. So very typical to him. Now you may wonder who this friend is, what he researches and where. He is Larry Knowledge, and his friends call him Bug. He has got his nickname because he works in the Royal Virological Institute as a researcher. His research subjects are various types of infections and their causes, and development of possible viral defenses. As much as I know, Larry is very succesfull in his work, and he is also very popular with his colleagues.
Over our coffee and doughnuts we exchanged news, and chatted about this and that. Toward the end of the conversation I noticed an somber and rather absentminded look on his face. Naturally, I asked what was troubling him. He told me that the staff of the institute had pondered a problem for a long time already. They had been questioning how effective is the protection of the citizens of the kingdom have against various kind of infections. Despite that protection far too many citizens because of defective hygiene have been exposed to a tenacious virus called Root of Bitterness (radix amaritudinis or D4U2). "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled." (Hebr.12:14,15) If this virus goes untreated, according to Larry and his colleagues, it is very deadly, indeed.
An even more astonishing thing that I heard from him when he said that we all are in danger, that is if we don't take care of our spiritual hygiene. In theory, this bug could even take on pandemic dimensions among the citizens of the kingdom. Apparently, Larry noticed the expression on my face, because after hearing this my mind moved toward alarm. He appeased my mind by saying that this virus is treatable, but treatment is best started at an early stage. Healing is not impossible, not even in the later stages, but the healing process will be much more difficult and complicated. This is on account of the complacency of bitterness, developed by this virus. Bitterness comes as a counterfeit fuel for the soul, from which one doens't want to be purged off in the later stages of the infection. People who are so infected are like poison to their neighbours. Their persons, expressions and especially their tongues show that the virus has taken hold on them: " And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so." (Jam.3:6-10) The inner being of the infected person is filled with unforgiveness. Forgiving can be extremely difficult but it is crucial, though, for the healing process. At this stage neglecting treatment can be fatal, even to the extent where one has approached the terminal phase: "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." (Mark 11:25,26)
I asked Larry how one can protect himself agains this vicious bug. I did understand, from his explanation, the importance of the hygienic environment of grace, but is there any assured protection? He answered that there is no other way than the way of the cross, the way of self denial: "Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." (Luke 9:23,24) He said also that this daily strengthening of the immunological protection isn't necessarily easy. With the help of grace even this is possible: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works." (Titus 3:11-14)
With immunological greetings
J. P.

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