Here’s the irony, it seems as if the debate today is not about salvation but vaccination. One side of the Church says we must always obey the government, and the other side says we must obey God. But don’t you find it ironic that the Church hasn’t approached the issue of salvation and holiness with the same enthusiasm and zeal that it does about the vaccination and masks?
Would Jesus Get The Jab
Maybe you don’t see the irony, but I do. I often wonder what society would have been like if the Church treated the matter of salvation and holiness with the same enthusiasm and zeal as he vaccine and masks mandate? Heres’ why I believe Jesus or the Apostle Paul would have most likely taken the jab or worn the mask. No, it was not because of travel restrictions But for the same reason, Paul advised young Timothy to administer medication for his sickness (1 Tim 5:2) and for the same reason Jesus endorsed medical doctors (Matt 9:12). So was Timothy perhaps trying to act super spiritual? If you’re Christian –thou shalt not take painkillers! Surely as a cultural norm, Tim understood the wine’s medicinal properties? So why did he need Paul to nurse him? I’m pointing out that God is not against doctors or medication, and therefore anyone who argues the contrary is unscriptural.
A Church Caught In Civilian Affairs
I’m intentional about not sounding conspiratorial, “vac is the mark of the beast” it may very well be the stage, but this is not the point of this blog. The point of this blog is to illustrate the effects on society we would have had if we as the Church had focused our passionate feelings about vaccines and masks toward the unsaved, including those who are not growing in their Christ-likeness within the ranks and respecting each other (2Tim 2:4), especially spiritual leaders. Imagine how different things have been?
Instead, one side barks off Romans 13:1–2, and I would need to quote it as stated in the Bible because I believe it is misused. For instance, Romans 13:1–2 says,
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” By doing so we are free from the fear of punishment (13:3–4), our consciences are clear (13:5), and workers [i.e., government officials] are worthy of their wages (13:6; cf. 1 Tim 5:18).
Sure enough, all this is true, and we should obey these commands but make sure that if you are on this side of the argument, make sure that you are also keeping the speed limit. Ensure that you are coming to a complete stop at a stop sign and indicating when changing a lane. Don’t also forget to declare the income from your garage sale and to love your wife or respect your husband.
The first part of the problem is when people stress one part of the scriptures but neglect the rest at the cost of hurting the relationship and disparaging the wisdom of God. (Insane!)
The second part of the problem is when one finds themselves on the other side of the argument. “We should obey God and not Nero!” Loosely quoting verses such as Acts 4:19–20. When the ruling Jewish authorities demanded that they stop preaching Jesus, Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” This side also quotes Acts 5:29. “We must obey God rather than human beings!” and argues that biblically mandated worship is impossible with masks. Or we cannot worship and obey God if we can’t meet in a building! Others even go to such an extreme by saying, all those that are vaccinated are deceived and therefore not true believers. (What!?)
But think about this… Do you obey God ALL the time? If you speak about people who are not present, you are a gossiper, which means you don’t obey God all the time. Do you give generously to your Church (2 Cor 8:7) since workers are deserving of their wages? Do you detest what is evil and cling to what is good (Rom 12:9)? So why do so many Christians speak in absolutes when so many brothers and sisters hold the opposite position?
Here is a deep concern happening right now in the Church. I don’t know how much longer pastors will stand for the hypocrisy and graceless behaviour among their flocks? The issues of the vaccine and masks mandates are tearing churches apart. Pastors are doing their best to serve God and His people as they are led –in the building or outside of a building. Yet, people are leaving their local churches, walking away from decades of God forged and extended fellowship and friendship. Giving members stop giving, serving leadership stopped serving, and pastors are walking away from the ministry in unprecedented numbers. Where is the Grace? (I think it’s despicable!)
God Outweighs Nero
I think the basic principle is clear: obey your governing rulers, even if that ruler is Nero, as in Paul’s day. But when the government tells you to do something that is contrary to God’s laws, then we cannot obey the government. (I know that I wouldn’t!) God outweighs Nero. But are vaccine mandates or mask mandates contrary to God’s laws — I’m still looking for that verse — or are they a violation of my personal freedom? (Maybe you can help me better understand?)
If you read Romans 14, and if you permit me the freedom to change the text a little, you’ll see what I am getting at. The words in italics are mine (Shan), not Paul’s. The difficulty of this passage is determining which theological position is “weak” and which is “strong,” so I will paraphrase the passage two different ways.
Paul starts with his general principle.
“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarrelling over disputable matters. “
And then he continues:
“One person’s faith requires them to get the jab or wear masks, but another, whose faith is weak, does not get the jab or wear masks. The one who gets the jab or wears a mask must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not get the jab or wear a mask must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.” (Get it?)
Now to switch the weak and strong:
“One person’s faith requires them not to get the jab or wear masks, but another, whose faith is weak, gets the jab or wears masks (I’m not suggesting if one medicates or wears an N95, one is weak in faith). The one who does not get the jab or wear a mask must not treat with contempt the one who does get the jab or wear a mask, and the one who does not get the jab or wear a mask must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.” (Get it?)
This principle suggests that love triumphs over knowledge and Christian liberty, as also suggested in 1 Cor 8:12. (Get this right and even the devil may change his mind about us.)
Don’t Shoot The Messenger
Before you start guessing what I believe about the vaccine or masks, be assured that you probably don’t! So please don’t shoot the messenger. Please don’t send me resignation letters or bombard my inbox with conspiracies.
But one thing that I know for sure, I am convinced that the Covid-19 pandemic has given Christians the greatest platform we have had in years –to show our neighbours that we are different and that our hope is not in this world, (vaccines or masks) but in Christ Jesus.
And I am convinced that when we split or leave our Churches, ditch God’s kingdom responsibilities we have failed.