This year should be known as ‘The Great Divide’. The division that has driven families, friends, and churches apart. The ominous Covid-19 vaccination debate. I am not going to give you the biblical answer to take/not take the shot. That is a decision you will need to make. I feel as though many Christians (on both sides of this debate) have thrown biblical knowledge out of the window; it is more a case of believing what feels right.
It also seems that our beliefs concerning this debate end there, and do not draw parallels into similar areas. For instance, if one’s argument is that we need to obey our government, how many of us always obey the laws of the road? According to the World Health Organization approximately 1.3 million people die from road accidents every year. Or if your argument is that you cannot trust this modern medicine? Have you used any form of modern medicine? For instance, antihistamine after a bee sting or paracetamol for a headache? If your argument is to take the shot because we need to love people. Did you know that approximately 1.2 million people die from second-hand smoke (according to World Health Organisation, and up to 7 million people die from smoking)? How vocal are you against an act far deadlier than not taking a shot? Lastly if you have an argument that we need to look after our body as a temple of the Holy Spirit and therefore you shouldn’t take the shot? Well, how healthy do you eat, do you exercise? The WHO attributes the increase of diabetes, heart disease and obesity to our exercise and eating habits.
If we look at the facts about the vaccine, we can find doctors/scientists on both side of the debate with data and scientific research to back up their argument. I want to pose this question; does it matter? Does it matter if your best friend has a different opinion to you? Does it matter if your mother wants to get the shot and your father not? What we have learned is that there can be consequences to either choice. That’s reality isn’t it though, every single choice we make has consequences/outcomes. I will say this though, it is more important for you to make your own decision than to follow your friends/social media blindly.
So, what does the bible say about interacting with someone who doesn’t share the same opinion?
Difference of Opinion!
What Paul is teaching in Romans 14 is very relevant for 2021. We have no need to judge or get offended with another’s opinion, for we live to bring glory to God. We do not need to place our focus on the way other people are living their lives because we will not be the one who judges in the end.
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honour of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honour of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honour of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Romans 14:1-12
Without a shadow of a doubt Paul is telling the readers that if one eats meat and the other not; it doesn’t matter. They should not judge or despise another because they believe differently. Each of them will stand before the judgement seat of God, it is not His people that are mandated to Judge. Instead, we are called to love!
Therefore, let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in LOVE. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Romans 14:13-21
Now obviously Paul is not speaking of a vaccine, but of food. However, the principle remains that we should not judge someone who makes choices that differ to us, especially concerning non-fundamentals of our faith.
Whether or not someone is going to take the COVID-19 vaccine has nothing to do with the fundamentals of our faith such as Jesus being the son of God, who died for our sins, and through him we can have salvation and relationship with God. If your best friend decides to take the shot and you decide against it, why should that effect your friendship or your ability to show love to each other? In the wise words of Solomon;
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. Proverbs 18:2
I wonder if Solomon would look around the world and see billions of fools? We are so closed minded, anyone who remotely looks as if they believe something contrary to our beliefs, we toss aside so that we do not need to listen to anything they have to say. OR we are determined to shout our opinion loud and proud, determined to prove why what we believe is better than what they believe. When did this become ok to do in the Church?
The Church of Activism
What makes the Covid-19 vaccination so important, that as a Christian I need to voice my opinion to as many people as possible? No, let me re-phrase that question; Why has it become more important to share my opinion on the Covid-19 vaccination, than to share the Gospel with as many people as possible?
Seriously though, I’m curious to know if those Christians who were bold enough to speak out on their opinion on C-19 and the vaccine, are as bold in sharing the Gospel, without a care how they were perceived? There are millions of Christians around the globe that have spent endless hours and exhausted their contact list for the purpose of expressing their C-19 opinion. How much effort has been put into spreading the gospel? Into seeking first the Kingdom, or into exampling God’s character?
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
He commissions his disciples to make disciples of all nations, He tells them to teach the nations to observe what Jesus has commanded and baptize the nations. His disciples went out to continue building the church on the foundation Jesus laid, the church we are a part of and therefore also need to obey Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations.
The Greek word for disciple transliterated is matheteuo; which is a transitive verb. This means that it is a ‘doing word’, and transitive means that it must have an adjective to exert its action onto. In this case; ‘of all nations’. How active are we at making disciples? Do we have family members, neighbours, or friends that need their saviour Jesus? I certainly do not get this right, but I am challenging myself to make sure I am talking more about my faith and not just about politics, sports, or Covid-19.
We should all examine how much time and effort we put into sharing our beliefs on the vaccine. Then we should compare that to how much time we spend in God’s word, letting that Truth transform our lives, and sharing the gospel with others. We need to shift our focus towards God. I like what John Piper says;
“God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him.”