I’m not a doctor, and I dont play one on the Internet, but I do know a bit about allergies. I’m one of the millions who suffer from “seasonal allergies,” and like everyone else in that category I’ve taken just about every allergy medication known to man in my quest for relief.
Allergies are a part of the body’s defense mechanisms. When it detects the presence of a substance that it perceives as being a threat, the body releases substances called “histamines” in an attempt to defend itself. Histamines are what causes the runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing that happen when you inhale that lovely pollen. We have a class of drug called “antihistamines,” which (theoretically) counteract the histamines and relieve the symptoms they cause.
Unfortunately, antihistamines typically have some nasty side-effects. The two most common side effects are over-drying of the mucous-generating parts of the body, and an all-expense paid vacation in la-la land. One popular antihistamine is so good at making people drowsy that doctors prescribe it as a sleep aid! There are antihistamines that are less likely to cause drowsiness, but they also are less likely to work on your allergies. The best means of allergy relief is still removing the offending allergen from your environment.
Did you know that there are spiritual allergies, too?
We don’t normally call them by that name, but they work in the same way. Our spirit discerns a spiritual threat, and starts ringing the alarm bell in our hearts. We then have three options; we can remove or withdraw from the spiritual threat, we can try to ignore the alarm, or we can take a “spiritual antihistamine.” Ignoring the alarm is a hard task, right up there with ignoring a fit of sneezing in a field of ragweed. The antihistamine approach will quiet the alarm, but makes you dull and unresponsive, and causes your spiritual life to become dry. Like a physical allergy, the best approach is to remove the offending “spiritual allergen.”
American Christians love their “spiritual antihistamines.” We have become a nation of spiritual zombies, going through our church rituals while co-existing with blatant compromise and a sin-permissive attitude. Our nation’s leaders are knee-deep in blatant, open sexual sin, lying under oath and obstructing justice, and the nation has responded with a wink and an increased approval rating. We choose denial, rather than acknowledge the lowered moral and ethical standards of our society, because we’d rather not be accountable for the sin in our own lives. Our “spiritual allergies” were given to warn us when we are straying from the path, but we have willingly swallowed the “spiritual antihistamine” that allows us to happily veer off of the road and live in the ditch alongside.
This is not a new phenomenon. Jesus could just as well have been referring to America circa 1998 when he quoted Isaiah’s prophecy:
“In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.’ (Matt 13:14-15, NNAS)
There’s only one fix for this problem in modern America. We need a genuine revival—not another “movement” or “program,” but individuals, one at a time, getting their own accounts straightened out with God. We need to stop dulling our spirits with those “spiritual antihistamines,” understand what the real “spiritual allergens” are, and get them out of our lives. That doesn’t mean telling “the other guy” what’s wrong with his life—it means agreeing with God about what’s wrong with your life, and making the adjustments that He requires.
It’s been fashionable in recent years for American Christians to quote 2 Chronicles 7:14:
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chron 7:14, NIV)
It’s time for you and me to quit quoting that verse, and start living it.