Jack Finney’s 1955 science-fiction novel, The Body Snatchers, was adapted to film four times, the latest and, they say, the worst rendition in 2007 with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. Alien seed pods assume human form and take over their look-alikes, but devoid of emotion and in lock-step conformity. Reminds me that the Bible warns of invaders who will snatch the body of Christ in different times and places and replace it, or remake it, with alien elements. It happened in 1906 and is happening again in our time, in Brazil, the U.S., in many places.
• The Finney book was optimistic, with the alien pods leaving earth; the films less so. On the spiritual side, the truth of God will be victorious, but many a saint and congregation will turn to heretical dust before the Lamb closes the curtain of human history.
• A number of missionary families have left or will be leaving Brazil next month. Also, several of the first-generation Brazilian Christians are passing on, such as former elder Abramo Lucarelli who died Dec. 11. Such moments test the church, if its preachers and teachers have taken care to “entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2 ESV).
• The first-generation missionaries rushed back to Brazil to protect the congregations against the discipling movement, now known as the International Church of Christ, when it appeared in the mid-1980s. National meetings were called to warn the brethren against the cult-like invasion. Some attempts were made, too, to warn the churches when factious anti-institutionals invaded churches. No such effort has been made to warn the churches about the progressives among us. Many brethren, both the first-generation workers and those now in the field, seem to have turned a blind eye to those who want to make the church into just another denomination. Some even partner with them or lend their name to cooperative efforts.
• Let’s end on a brighter note. Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, with most of them concentrated here in São Paulo state. So it was a natural decision for the church here in São José dos Campos to send help to Japan after the March 11 quake and tsunami. Last week, we received a thank-you letter and financial report from brethren involved in the relief effort there.
• The Japanese relief effort will run for three years, considering the great needs that exist there. The concern is that financial help may run out, Sasha Ingle, treasurer for the East Japan Disaster Relief Committee, wrote. So you or your congregation might consider a year-end donation toward this good work.
• ‘Tis the season to be jolly, goes the Yuletide song. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven,” said the Teacher (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NRSV). At the same time, there are some things for all seasons. Joy at salvation. Preaching the word, “whether the time is favorable or unfavorable” (2 Timothy 4:2). Vigilance for the truth. Faithfulness to the end. That earnest longing for Christ’s appearing (2 Timothy 4:8). And doing good “always” (1 Thessalonians 5:15). ‘Tis the season for these, too.
J. Randal Matheny
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