by Rev. Bishop Ib Meyer, Grace Lutheran Church and School, Woodlands
The deliberation of an issue that intersects theology, science and politics, begs for prayerful consideration and difficult decision making, all wrapped up in humility.
There is one governing principle in Christianity and it is love. Christ so eloquently distilled it for us with these words (Luke 10:27) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and, love your neighbour as yourself.” This governing principle points Christians to submit their thoughts, actions and priorities to the loving of God and neighbour — not self. Consequently, there is no mandate in Christianity to love self. Rather, our self grows and is fulfilled in love directed to the LORD and to our neighbours. We are called to sacrifice. We are called to give.
We and our neighbours are currently facing a pandemic. The worldwide Covid-19 pandemic has caused the death of approximately 3.9 million people. This far exceeds normal annual worldwide death rates from influenza which lies at around 500,000 per year (high-end estimation). By the grace of God, we in Grenada, due to the past and present decisions and actions of government, have been spared the ravages of Covid-19 until recently. That bubble of security though has been punctured. We are now seeing the true savagery of Covid-19 which is taking the lives of some young and many older brothers and sisters.
Some in the church have determined that this pandemic is directly from Satan and a fulfillment of Biblical prophecies. Sadly, others have said the same of previous disasters and pandemics, and their words were proved false. No one knows (Matthew 24:36-39) when our Lord will return. He simply wants us to be spiritually ready for his unknown return. This pandemic is one of many events in history that the Lord graciously uses to remind us to wake up, repent, and act in love. He is teaching you and me.
He is teaching you to love and not be bigoted. Already people are treating each other differently. If you are unvaccinated, you are ignorant, unloving and a danger to society. If you are vaccinated you are a thoughtless slave to government and science which have been proven wrong before. Why can I not respect and rejoice with my unvaccinated brother or sister, and they the same with their vaccinated brethren? This is an opportunity for us to sit, and in humility, converse with each other without prejudice, hatred, vitriol, and fear.
Our government, whose authority is from God (Romans 13), has encouraged us, in consultation with medical professionals (science), to take care of ourselves and each other. How? Be vaccinated. Wear masks. Wash hands. Maintain social distancing and be tested and quarantine if exhibiting symptoms.
Other drugs have been used effectively in fighting the symptoms of Covid which are so often deadly and God willing those might become available in the future. Yes, drink bush. Exercise. Eat healthful foods. Take a sea bath. If your health is compromised in some way be that much more careful. This reminds me of an Oil Down. So many things go into it. More of some, less of others, but they all work together to create a wonderful goodness.
At the end of the day, the Christian response should be an attitude. The attitude of love to God and neighbour. Decisions should be made accordingly. I am an older man, and the science is still determining what the long-term effects of the vaccine will be. However, I have taken vaccines before. I have taken medications before. And, I am currently vaccinated.
The vaccine will not fend off Covid-19 as though it is an impenetrable shield around me. No. But it will mitigate the seriousness if I catch it and possibly prevent my death. I wear my mask. I social distance. I pray and read God’s Word. I encourage and fellowship with all my brothers and sisters, vaccinated or not. I refuse to fall victim to the attitude of hate by questioning their status and then treating them differently based on the response. This is how the atrocities of history began.
That is my personal decision — one that I arrived at after prayerful consideration based on fact, the Word of God and my personal conscience. That is my recommendation to you as you come to your own decision.
The Christian’s attitude at this time should be one of love, peace, and joy as God in his grace grants you another day of life, another day to rejoice in your forgiveness in him, another opportunity to marvel at the fact of eternal life, and another morning of new mercies. He is faithful.
Christians should not fear. Fear is nailed to the cross of Jesus and swallowed up in his empty tomb. Our Saviour Jesus is our living hope. The Christian response to this pandemic is not to resort to slander, selfishness, threats, anger, vexation and helplessness. No. Rather, our Christian response to this threat will be that of Paul, who while in prison and awaiting execution, stated in Philippians 4:4-7 4 Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
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