By Jennifer Bullion, Washington Conference Children's and Women's Ministry director

I’m ashamed to say it, but I think about cancer probably more often than most people my age.

After a three-year battle with colon cancer, my mom died when she was 41 and as I approach the big 4-0 this year, I’m not going to lie and say that there isn’t the small temptation to fear that her fate will be mine.

Generally, cancer occurs when abnormal cells divide, multiply uncontrollably, and destroy normal body tissue. It can happen anywhere in the body and can spread from one area to another, with some types being more insidious than others.

If left unchecked, death to part or the whole body ensues.

In Romans 12:4-5, Paul refers to the believers as one body of members working together through various avenues to further the kingdom. Given the context, Paul is not suggesting each person has one job in the church and they better stay there or else. Rather, this is a discussion of being a “living sacrifice” in service for the Master as seen in verses 1-2, eschewing the worldly cancerous mindset that destroys the body and instead accepts Christ’s renewal of the mind.

Is it possible that cancer could exist in the body of believers?

Now consider this: “Are you a cancer in the body of Christ?” Do you relish in playing the “devil’s advocate” at every Bible study discussion? Are you consistently ill prepared to teach children’s Sabbath School? Do you squash innovation in soul winning? Do you withhold giving because you’re angry?

Know that to continue this mindset will lead to death of part or the whole body of believers.

Paul continues in verse 9 with spiritual treatment, prescribing genuine love, zealous service, rejoicing with hope, patience with one another, and being in constant prayer as the remedy. Summing things up with “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” he proposes to the rest of the body how to heal from within.

But you can’t just turn cancer cells back into regular cells; they have to die.

Paul touches on this concept in chapter 6 of the same book when he calls for the “old man,” our sin-sick selves, to be crucified with Christ—to die. Verse 11 says,

Dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

May we all as members of the body of Christ ask the Great Physician to pre-medicate us with the Holy Spirit, transforming and renewing our minds, knowing that each member of the body is vital for the joint mission of spreading the gospel to the world.