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Good Infection

The flu is fierce this season.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that this year’s outbreak is on pace to be the worst in nearly a decade. Influenza activity is now widespread in 48 states and Puerto Rico. If that news isn’t bad enough, the season hasn’t peaked yet.

When we speak of infection, our mind usually conjures up images of ugly germs floating around, eager to invade our bodies and wreak havoc. But in his popular work, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis introduced the term, “good infection,” to describe what Christ does for the human race.

Lewis asks us to go back to our childhoods when we played with toys. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could bring our favorite doll or action figure to life? In the words of Lewis, “Imagine turning a tin soldier into a real little man.” The soldier, accustomed to its hard metal state, would likely resist this change. 

This is the predicament of the human race. We all have fleshly life, which bends toward sin, but God wants to impart to us His own life, the Christ-life that animates our spirits. As naturally self-centered creatures, we don’t embrace change. Yes, we want the results and rewards of positive transformation, but without a major renovation job. Adam and Eve desired the wisdom and power of God, but they decided walking with him every day was too much trouble, so they took the shortcut by crunching into forbidden fruit. Ever since, humans have steeled themselves against God.

Then Christ came, one tin soldier who became flesh and began melting the hard shell of sin in other tin soldiers. Lewis calls this the “good infection.” For most of my young adult life, I inoculated myself against this heavenly virus. I remember God trying to reach me through various means, but I slapped away His hand and hardened myself even more, stubbornly choosing my own path. It wasn’t until that road reached a mile-high brick wall that the knees of my heart sank and I finally allowed Jesus to peel off my tin exterior. I have to confess that the good infection hasn’t completely consumed me. There are still stubborn areas in my soul that resist it, but God isn’t through with me yet — or you, either. 

There are a number of ways to fight the flu. But there is only one way to catch the “good infection”: admit that you’re not as healthy on the inside as you think and then allow the Great Physician to do His work (Mark 2:15-17).

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