As I started my newest day-job assignment writing about a treatment for graft-versus host disease, I had an epiphany. Call me a geek, but I see spiritual implications in many medical topics I write about. Especially this assignment.
For people with a blood-based cancer, a stem-cell transplant can be a lifesaving treatment. A stem-cell transplant is a “liquid graft” that is designed to join with the body—to become so integrated that it doesn’t function independently anymore. But with it comes the danger of graft-versus-host disease.
What the heck does that have to do with the Bible?
We all have a terminal disease. A stem-cell transplant can save one’s life, but there’s no guarantee. God’s grafting guarantees eternal, abundant life. His ultimate lifesaving treatment through His Son Jesus Christ ensured that we could be grafted into His family permanently.
In both cases, the treatment offers benefits we aren’t fully aware of. We don’t know all that we inherit, even when it starts to manifest itself in our lives.
But the gift doesn’t always sit well inside us.
Graft-versus-host disease is when the transplant turns to the dark side and decides it doesn’t like being inside a person. It attacks the body from within, with the power to damage virtually any organ. Sometimes that damage is hidden deep inside the body; other times it breaks through the skin. In the same way, sometimes we don’t like what we hear from God. Maybe He asks us to do something we dread or won’t agree to. Pride may keep us from taking a leap of faith. We may try to hide our anger with God or outright rebel. Either way, we start to strive in our own strength when we should lean in our weakness upon Him. We substitute busyness for obedience. We trade His protection for our provision. We excel in works in lieu of the faith He wants to increase in us.
A host of other sins can bend our walk away from Christ. That damage is never self-contained; it hurts us and those around us.
There are treatments for graft-versus-host disease. But no silver bullet. And not everyone responds as expected. In contrast, we all can respond to God’s gentle call to keep walking with Him. To believe that today’s detours are paths to tomorrow’s breakthroughs. When we live like His promises are true—even if no evidence of that is in sight—we show God we value what’s important to Him.
God loves that faith.
When your identity in Him is sure, it shields you from enemy attacks in your weakest moments. So let’s take a moment to think about what it means to be grafted into God’s family. A graft gets its nourishment, strength, and life from what it’s grafted into. Unlike a human graft, which the body can reject, God will never reject what He grafts into His family. How glorious is that?!
But being grafted into God’s forever family means more than getting a ticket to heaven. It means we are joined to all of God’s promises. All of them are available for us to claim and live.
Romans 11 is all about God grafting the Gentiles into His eternal plans … while not discarding the Jews in any way. Paul later puts it this way: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, ESV).
You have a forever family and a forever home, courtesy of God. Hallelujah!
Father, thank You that You so lovingly provided a way for everyone to be part of Your forever family. Show me how to live that out each day. I want to do more than speak Your Word; I want to reflect Your power and goodness. Thank you for loving me so much. In Christ’s Name, amen.
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