I am visiting the doctor. My diagnosis is dire.
“But I don’t understand, Doc. I feel fine.”
“Yeah. In fact I feel great. More blessed than ever.”
“Well I’ve run some tests and the evidence says otherwise. The good news is, this condition is very common and can be treated. The bad news is, if left untreated, it is fatal. You’re definitely an ELC.”
“That can’t be true. I feel healthy, happy, comfortable. Wait . . . what’s ELC?”
“ELC means you are an Entry Level Christian.”
“That doesn’t sound so bad. What does it mean?”
“Well it’s not at first. Every Christian starts as one. But many people never grow out of it. Imagine being stuck in puberty forever. But worse. Your growth is stunted. You cannot survive there forever. Usually something happens.”
“What happens? Is it bad?” My voice sounded distant in my own ears.
“It can be. Like I said, the longer it lasts the worse it is. Firstly, it means your eyesight is not very good. Over the years, a Christian should develop spiritual discernment. It means you see other people as God sees them and you make better decisions than you would have before. Bad eyesight impacts on your heart, making it stunted and unloving. You trip over things you shouldn’t. Other parts of the body have to overcompensate for your heart’s lack of effort.”
I was shaken. Was it really true? Well I suppose there had been symptoms.
“How long have I had it?”
“Quite a while it seems.” The doctor looked at me sternly. “How long have you been a Christian?”
“Most of my life.”
“I see. Well there are signs that your own system has fought it. I can see that you’ve not always allowed the disease to take full control. But right now it’s in the ascendancy again and spreading. It’s actually quite contagious. Especially if you hold any kind of leadership position. Do you?” [pullquote]
All I could manage was a sheepish look.
“You see, people compare themselves to leaders. If leaders don’t deal with their own complacency, they won’t either. We’d better start treatment right away.”
“How long do I have, Doc?”
“Oh you could live quite a long time in this state. But in the context of eternity, well, it’s a very short time isn’t it really?”
“I’m ready. Please help me.”
“Well first you need a full heart transplant.”
“What?” I was shocked. “That’s crazy!”
“Look I’ve been doing this a long time. It’s the only way. I can give you a new heart.”
“Will it hurt very much? It sounds risky.”
“It is and it isn’t. It will hurt and it is dangerous but I’m a professional. I can guarantee it will change your life. It might be uncomfortable but it’s the only way.”
“Do you ever hear voices in your head?”
“Yeah, I usually just ignore them. Isn’t that good?”
“What about the one telling you to do good things?”
“Well, I ignore that too.”
“Ah, that my friend is your inbuilt protection mechanism against ELC. Keep ignoring it and the voice goes away. Think of it like anti-virus software.
“Let me write you a prescription. Start with a daily immersion in God’s Word. Allow it to challenge you and to help you to weed out the infection. You have a parasite that’s trying to gain strength from you. If you starve it, it will die and you will be more like you were created to be. Act on it.
“Don’t over-indulge in anything, especially in rich foods. You also need to serve others, especially those who everyone else has written off. That will help your eyesight.”
“It is. If you don’t feel the cost, you’ll never move past being an ELC.”
“Can it be done?” The Doctor looked at me, His eyes filled with compassion and love. For the first time I noticed the terrible scars on His brow. “It can,” He said. “Trust Me.”