We all see it. The growing division between those who have been vaccinated and those who haven’t is both heartbreaking and scary. The condemnation, name-calling, and judgment being flung by both sides is horrendous for anyone, but especially for Christians. Aren’t we supposed to act like Christ? Aren’t we supposed to bring light and peace into our society instead of promoting fear and darkness? Or is that what we are trying to do when we point out how ignorant, misinformed, selfish, fearful, brainwashed, careless, and divisive the other side is?
As always, I went to the Bible to see if I could figure out if what we’re doing fits God’s way of doing things. After all, we are His image bearers and are supposed to be revealing His nature to those around us.
God doesn’t use fear tactics – or does He?
Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. Exodus 20: 18-21 (This happened when the Israelites heard God speaking to Moses, giving him the Ten Commandments.)
God doesn’t create disunity – or does He?
Do not think I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Matthew 10:34-35 (This is the same word peace as used in John 14:27 when He said “Peace I leave with you…”)
God doesn’t name-call – or does He?
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our father, we would not have taken part with them in the shedding of the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Matthew 23:13:29-33 (Jesus said this to the Pharisees for claiming they wouldn’t have killed the prophets like their forefathers had.)
That was eye-opening to me. Maybe we are doing what we should be doing. But then I took a peek behind the curtain. I looked at the why.
What I discovered was – and this is crucial – EVERYTHING GOD DID AND SAID WAS RELATED TO FOLLOWING HIM AND LIVING IN HIS KINGDOM. He was concerned about the spiritual health of His people. He wanted them in a relationship with Him and used these tactics to warn them away from everything that would harm that relationship, or to point out his enemies who were threatening that relationship.
However, that is NOT what we are doing. What I see and hear in our behavior these days is not about our relationship with God. It’s not about following Jesus, but about following our opinions, our feelings, our rights, our consciences, our leaders, our chosen experts, our understanding, our fear, etc. It’s all about us and how we want to live.
Satan is a counterfeiter. He’s using God’s tactics against us by twisting them to fit his own agenda. He has us killing, hating, lying, deceiving, judging, hurting, segregating, rejecting, and suspecting each other. And I’m not just talking about non-Christians. Although they are engaged in the same behaviors, they have an excuse. We Christians do not. As long as Satan can keep us acting like this, he can effectively shut down our influence in our society.
What do we do?
Put our eyes on Jesus – and keep them there.
Obey Him first.
God knows what’s best for us. For many Christians, getting the vaccine is fine with Him. For many others, it is not. God knows what we don’t. Maybe the vaccine will save the lives of those who are told to receive it, while it will keep those who are told not to get it from a serious adverse effect. I don’t know, and it’s not my place to judge anyone concerning this.
I think if Paul were alive and writing Romans today, he may have included vaccines in the following passage.
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. Romans 14:1-4
Each person needs to pray and discern what God wants them to do and not project what they decide onto other Christians.
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 honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us live 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. Romans 14:5-8
Whether we get the vaccine or not, it’s important that our decision be out of obedience to God, and not out of fear, rebellion, pride, or peer pressure. And we must not shove our decision in the faces of those who decide differently, nor discriminate against them in any way. I think vaccine passports might fit this.
Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Romans 14:20-23
Jesus wants us spending our time here on earth serving others, not tearing them down. We need to be working on bringing people closer to God, not participating in things that cause separation. We need to keep our focus on the spiritual and not the earthly.
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:24-26
Instead of bickering, let’s seek ways to serve each other. Let’s reject anything that divides us so that we can be one as Jesus prayed that we would be. Let’s quit unwittingly playing Satan’s game and spend our time doing what Jesus calls us to do.
Let’s be the light of Jesus in these dark, confusing, and broken times.
The words for afraid and fear in Exodus mean just what they say. I’ve heard people try to explain them away (God loves us so we’re not supposed to be afraid of Him.) But the original words make it clear that yes, if it serves to keep our relationship with God right, we might need to remember just how fearfully powerful He is.
Verb – Qal – Imperfect – second person masculine plural
Strong’s 3372: To fear, to revere, caus, to frighten
the fear of Him
Noun – feminine singular construct | third person masculine singular
Strong’s 3374: Fear, reverence
The original word for peace used in Matthew 10:34-35 is the same one used here in John 14:27. Without doing a lengthy bible study on these verses, I would say that Jesus is talking about an inner peace and an outer peace. He gave us His inner peace, one that we will have no matter what happens around us. However, choosing Jesus over everything else threatens the peace of family relationships if not everyone is a disciple. Jesus didn’t come so that above all we would live in peace. He came so that above all people would be reconnected with the Father through Him. Turning to Jesus frequently results in ostracization, accusations, rejection, and condemnation by family members who don’t understand the change and feel threatened by it. I would add that obeying Jesus may have the same results at times.
Noun – Accusative Feminine Singular
Strong’s 1515: Probably from a primary verb eiro; peace; by implication, prosperity.
Here’s Matthew 10:34-35 in context. Jesus is talking to His twelve disciples just before He sends them out to preach and heal.
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against their parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by al for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. So have not fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs on your head are numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before me, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:16-39