Wuhan, China 2019 – the first reported case of Covid-19 emerged, the first seed of a global crisis that would, in the coming years, kill over 5 million people. At the time, I didn’t give much thought to it. I had heard of epidemics and killer viruses before. None of the worst ones had ever reached Western shores in my lifetime, why would they now? It wasn’t long, however, before Australia was thrown into restrictions and lockdowns; people hoarded toilet paper, and thousands lost their jobs as only businesses deemed “essential” could stay open. All in all, Australia has had it pretty good. We’ve only had around 200 thousand cases in total and less than 2 thousand related deaths. Compare that to the U.S. and other countries and Australia has suffered very little. Nevertheless, as the virus took life after life, we all scrambled for a vaccine. One study suggests that in an unprecedented move, over 92 billion U.S. dollars (worldwide) have been poured into vaccine-related products and research since the start of the pandemic. As a result, vaccines were fast-tracked and mass-produced, allowing for an estimated 42.7% of the world to be already fully vaccinated against the original strains of the virus. Australia, in particular, has been pushing three major vaccines; AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna. As of now, 86.7% of Australia’s population between the ages of 16 and 80 is fully vaxxed. This is a little snap-shot of where we’re at as a nation.
I’m not a doctor and I’m not an expert in vaccines and pandemics. I’ve just finished my degree in ministry/theology and that’s where my first love lay, so my reflections will be mostly theological in nature. Until now, I have been hesitant to blog about my own thoughts on the issue of vaccines, but here we are. I look forward to the fire and pitchforks.
- Vaccines are not a Gospel issue (or anywhere even close). The Gospel (Good News) is about how God and humanity can be reconciled to God in Christ Jesus (Colossians 1). It isn’t about public health, potential government agendas, and global depopulation. Mandates are an important issue for us to work through as citizens of Australia and even as the Church. However, your status in the Kingdom is not dependant upon the reception or rejection of the vaccine – it is dependant solely on the grace of God and the atoning work of Jesus. This leads me to my next point…
- Vaccines are not the mark of the beast. Getting the vaccine won’t identify you on judgement day as a child of Satan or whatever. The book of Revelation is highly figurative, rife with Old Testament imagery that would have made sense to its contemporary audience. Vaccines were not even in the mind of the author (the Apostle John) as he wrote it (they weren’t invented yet). Please go to a Bible college or seminary. Read a good book or three, attend a rational local church where the pastor loves the Bible. In fact, let me give you some good places to start when reading up on Revelation and the mark; just click here, here, here and here.
- Vaccine mandates are not akin to the Holocaust or Nazi Germany. That this needs to be explained is mind-blowing, but here we are. I’m no history buff, but it seems to me that Nazi Germany became a thing, that Jews and other races were thrown into camps and gassed because of racism and xenophobia, not because Hitler and The Third Reich were genuinely concerned by a pandemic that was wiping out the global population. Restricting unvaxxed people doesn’t seem like segregation, at least not in the traditional sense. If I were in government and health professionals were telling me that Covid-19 was killing people around the world, I’m not entirely sure I’d be making different decisions. Believe me when I say I am extremely uncomfortable with some of the mandates and how it affects people’s lives. I know many people who won’t get the vaccine (a choice I honour) who won’t be able to see loved one’s who are sick or even be able to catch up with me for a coffee come mid-December. I’m not sitting here smugly believing I’m superior for getting the vaccine (though I do believe it is, perhaps, the wiser choice to make), I am burdened for my brothers and sisters in the Church and in Australia who have a particularly hard road ahead of them.
- Mandates need to be heavily scrutinised and reformed. Over the last few days and weeks, I have seen mass protests where thousands, even hundreds of thousands, all over the nation and globe have been protesting against the unvaxxed mandates. It warms my heart. I believe in the people’s right to protest peacefully. I don’t believe the government has always handled this entire situation well. The people deserve vulnerability from their leaders, clear communication, and a say in how this is all handled.
- How beautiful are the feet of those that bring the Good News (Isaiah 52:7). As the Church we should be heavily praying for our leaders, preaching the Gospel, and planting churches so that God revives the hearts and minds of our nation before we protest and lobby. Before we try to preserve our earthly kingdoms, we need to be about the work of bringing God’s Kingdom to earth through the work that God has prepared for us in advance.
A final thought. Bad theology and sin lead to disunity in the Church during a time where unity is needed more than ever. Christians can differ on taking the vaccine, but they can’t break fellowship over it. Coming to the Lord’s table is a time where we remember and demonstrate Jesus’ atoning death until His return. We must lay aside those things that so easily cause us to hate one another, and place Jesus and His mission at the centre of our lives and meetings. As of today, I am double vaxxed. I say this with a certain degree of trepidation as I lay at the foot of the King. If you decide to not get the jab, I will never stop meeting with you, worshipping with you, and loving you in our shared calling to take the Gospel out to all nations which include our own backyards. You will always be welcome in my home. I will trust that the Spirit has led you to reasonable conclusions about this issue, I simply encourage you to consider the above points.
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.Ephesians 4:1-6