Romans 14 & Covid Vaccinations

A pastor friend in Australia recently posted this on FaceBook which I thought was helpful.

Regarding vaccinations:

  1. Please obtain the best relevant medical advice to inform your decision. Your choice should be free of duress and consistent with a clear conscience.

  2. Personal circumstances differ. I respect the choice of others, whether they are similar or different to mine.

  3. Vaccination status should not affect our relationships. I will continue to love and interact with those who are vaccinated and those who are not.

I would like to expand on this a bit…

Some of the worst and most damaging forms of coercion can come from pastors and church leaders, or even other well-meaning Christians, who speak with authority on matters the Bible does not speak with authority. On this issue, this can go both directions. I’ve seen pastors and others speaking with strong dogmatism on both sides of this issue. Stating with fervency that one must or one must not get a Covid vaccine.

To my fellow pastors and church leaders… we must not do this… God has called us to a position of spiritual leadership over His people. Our authority lies within the Word of God and in Christ. We sit under the Word and in submission to Christ. We do not hold any further form of authority over God’s flock.

Paul is quite clear in Romans 14 that there will be matters of conviction where those who belong to Christ will come to different conclusions and different practices. We are not to quarrel over such matters. Even more we are to love one another in our differences. Knowing our differences or even just the reality that some we know and love will have different convictions on this matter must practically shape our actions towards one another.

We now live in a world where people seem compelled to share the most mundane details of their daily life with others. Why we even think people need to know or should even care what we ate for breakfast or what movie we watched last night enough to post the details on FaceBook, etc, I will never understand. Yet when we have developed such habits of communication, that often occur without thinking, we habitually share other details that can hurt a brother or sister-in-Christ and cause harm to our unity in Christ.

One doesn’t have to be a sociologist or social media expert to know that if I share the results of my personal decision regarding the Covid vaccine on Social Media, it will almost certainly stir up a less than edifying, less than unifying, less than Christ-honouring response. I am to be shaped in everything I do by two great and grand commitments – love for God and love for others. Before I post, perhaps I need to stop and ask if what I am about to post is formed and informed by these truths.

Finally…

1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”

Ephesians 4:1-3 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

John 17:20 & 21 ““I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Jesus, Paul, Peter – the entire New Testament – are very concerned for the unity of God’s people and their disciple-testifying love for one another! There is not doubt Satan is very desirous to sew seeds of disunity between Christians, in general, and within individual churches in particular.

Colossians 3:12-17 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Let us pursue love. Let us pursue Christ. Let us learn to love one another in our differences. Let us rejoice in our differences. Let us not become districted by a ploy of Satan to bring disunity on a matter that ought not to be a subject of division. To do so is not only unloving, it is also foolish. For in doing so we inevitably take our eyes off of those matters which are of first importance.

There are matters to which the Scriptures speak with absolute clarity and for which we must stand immovable. Don’t fall for one of Satan’s tactics to create division over something that Bible does not speak to directly and therefore weaken Christ’s church, disabling her from standing firm on matters of eternal significance.