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Posted by Lawrence "LAW" Watford - - 0 comments

Okay... So it’s October and I’m sure you’re either wearing or surrounded by your fair share of pink; pink ribbons, pink bracelets, pink shirts, ties, shoes, and shoelaces… In fact, if you look overhead at planes passing by, you’ve probably noticed some of the airlines have painted them pink as well.   And of course we all know why, right? Well, for those of you who should be ashamed of yourselves for not knowing, the month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it is an extremely worthy cause.
For my part, I’m organizing a breast cancer walk for my son’s elementary school, here in Brooklyn NY. But as I spent last week decorating the hallway of P.S. 20 in pink, I was also overcome with an unshakable heaviness. The events of the week (personal interactions and observations) had left me overwhelmed by a sense that the world is becoming much more hardened and people becoming increasingly more unconcerned with one another. That feeling was compounded when I considered how much of that I was seeing within the Christian community and it got me to thinking that, as we Christians probably need to establish a Church Cancer Awareness Month.
  1. Cancer: 1) A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems…” (From the National Cancer Institute)
  2.  Any evil condition or thing that spreads destructively; blight.
In 1st Corinthians 12:12 the Apostle Paul describes early believers as “…the body of Christ,” literally likening each of us to eyes, ears and hands. And just like anybody’s body, the Body of Christ; the Church is susceptible to sickness and disease, but this being Breast Cancer Awareness month, the disease I’d like to focus on is cancer within The Church. The human body can suffer from various types of cancers that affect different parts of the body in different ways, and such is true for the body of Christ. The interesting thing about the kind of cancer that’s been most apparent to me is that it isn’t anything deep or nefarious or incredibly complex. In fact, it’s a rather simple human quality that’s growing among the saved and unsaved alike; “meanness”…
Yep! People are becoming downright mean and inconsiderate in ways that are as contagious as strep throat. It’s something that I know you feel when you look at our political discourse. You feel it when that person cuts you off during your morning commute, or when the guy on the cell phone shares a profanity filled laugh in public as little children stare. But it’s not just out in the world because you also notice it in church. You can feel it in the uncomfortable looks you get from some church folk as you walk around to drop your money in the offering basket. You notice it when someone gossips about what a person “ain’t got no business” doing, wearing, saying, etc. Yes, something is wrong in the world, but when the people who are charged to fix it are just as sick, then we’re all in trouble. “Mean cancer” within the church, unless checked will spread and can poison the body of Christ.
With cancer, it’s always best to find it before it shows you that it’s there, so when you see symptoms of cancer, then it often times means that the problem has grown to a seriousness that requires a more aggressive treatment to address. This is why it’s important to submit your self for screenings. The same is true for the church.  Unfortunately, the problem with the church is that we are too often concerned with defending ourselves against everything and everyone on the outside, while being extremely reluctant to look in the mirror. In other words, we rarely allow ourselves to be screened for cancers.
I’ve been on the HuffPost Live a number of times talking about the intersection of The Church and politics and my sense that we have become like hypochondriacs, paranoid that everything is out to get us. We tend to treat things like prayer in schools, gay marriage, and “war on Christmas” like terminal that will cause sickness in the Body of Christ, but truth is that they are diseases more akin to airborne viruses that we panic out about, while the cancer growing inside us. So we often end up overdosing on the flu-shots, when we really need chemotherapy.
Now the question becomes, how do we remedy this growing cancer? I think it has to begin with a realization and admission by The Church that says, “Yes. We are indeed battling cancer.” Then we have to be willing submit to the aggressive measures to remove the cancer, as well as the rigors of treatment. Depending on the stage of cancer, the next step might require removing parts of the body that are too heavily infected for non-surgical medicine alone to work. Equally, the Church may have to take measures to extricate ourselves from issues or people or places that are only feeding the cancer. Even Jesus says in Mark 9:47 that “…if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It’s better to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.”
Even after that Chemotherapy might be required, which is not easy- to put it mildly. Its a combination of drugs that aims toe accomplish a number of things at once, but it’s main job is to isolate and destroy the cancer cells to prevent them from spreading to and infecting other parts of the body. It comes with difficult side effects from hair loss, to severe fatigue and gastric sickness, among other things.
For the church, there will be a number of things that will have to happen on a number of levels to address our cancer. Pastors and church leaders will need to make it a point to be as attentive to the health of the flock as they are about the needs of the unsaved. Individual members of the body will have to do a better job of policing themselves and their emotions. We will have to be courageous enough to discourage gossip and discussion that does not build up members of the body. And last, but certainly not least, we will have to train ourselves to be a lot kinder, as tells us that“… as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10) ” and that “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)
The “Good News” (pun intended) for Christians is that we believe in miracle healings, so be encouraged.

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