I personally and we as Royal Mission are regularly asked what our position is in the current discussion surrounding whether or not to vaccinate. I have already paid some attention to this during one of our live streams ( Day 119 ) and we thought it would be good to also dedicate a blog to it.
There are very different opinions in this discussion surrounding vaccination. Medics, researchers, scientists, lawyers, high-ranking people and many others communicate information about corona and vaccination almost every day, which often seems contradictory or even is. In addition, preachers, ministers, pastors and other spiritual leaders regularly contribute their theological contributions. That doesn’t make it easy to make a good choice. It causes tension, division and even leads to major arguments. Still, I want to make an attempt to help you.
First I will take you to a robust discussion from the time of the New Testament. The topic is whether or not to eat pagan sacrificial meat. Paul responds to this dilemma in the letter to the Corinthians. He writes: “You say, ‘Christians can safely eat meat sacrificed to idols. For Christians know that idols are nothing at all’” (1 Corinthians 8:1 NIV). Paul agrees with those who eat occultly charged meat. You can simply eat this meat, because God is far greater than all idols. Demons have no power over this. Quite a strong conclusion, one that many in our time would have the greatest difficulty with.
But Paul does not stop here. He writes: ‘You are right, but that knowledge has made you proud. And because of this you have forgotten the most important thing: to support others by loving them” (1 Corinthians 8:1 NIV). Apparently being right in a discussion is not the highest good. Supporting and loving people with a different opinion or who make an opposite choice is more important. There is even a great danger in being right and that danger is pride. You become so sure of your beliefs that you start speaking negatively and judgmentally about the people who come to a different conclusion in the discussion.
Paul has more to say to Christians who do eat the sacrificial meat. ‘Some Christians do not yet have that knowledge. Their faith is still weak. For they have only just stopped worshiping idols. They think: If I eat meat, I am honoring the gods to whom that meat was sacrificed. And then God gets mad at me (1 Corinthians 8:7 KJV).
Paul links the choice that people make to the growth phase of their faith. If you are young or weak in faith, you are less powerful. Then it is logical that you keep your distance from certain things. The stronger you become, the more powerful choices you can make in trust in God. The decision people make regarding sacrificial meat therefore has to do with their spiritual growth and their faith in God. And everyone is at a different stage in their growth process with God.
Good or bad
Paul closes with a special conclusion. ‘But food is not important to God. He doesn’t think you’re a worse Christian if you don’t dare to eat something. And he will not consider you a better Christian if you dare to eat everything’ (1 Corinthians 8:8 NIV). The choice people make regarding pagan sacrificial meat does not make them a worse or better Christian. Both are good depending on the degree of your faith. And the most important thing is that you do not become proud of your beliefs and continue to love and support the other person.‘You may indeed eat meat sacrificed to idols. But don’t make it difficult for Christians with weak faith!’ (1 Corinthians 8:9 KJV).
Back to the current dilemma surrounding vaccination. Our advice is like that of Paul: ‘Do according to your faith and do not condemn others, but love them’. Do you have faith that God will protect you from corona or do you trust that God can protect you from illness through the vaccine? Do you have doubts about the good intentions of politicians and pharmaceuticals or do you have full confidence in the choices of important physicians? Are you afraid that the vaccine is a weapon of the enemy or do you hope that the vaccine will get us out of the crisis? Paul’s answer is also our answer: ‘Act according to your faith and do not condemn others, but love them’.
Yet people remain very curious about my own choice. In fact, they hope to gain direction for their choice or to discover which ‘camp’ I am in. I won’t comment on that. Not because I’m ashamed or afraid of the consequences, but because my opinion or my decision doesn’t matter. I want to love, support and respect others in the choice they make. I don’t want to be proud of my choice and I certainly won’t force it on others. In the kingdom of God it is not about who you are, but about the attitude of your heart. That is the core of the endless discussions that Jesus had with Pharisees and Scribes.
Unite and serve
The devil wants to use everything to damage and destroy. Also this discussion. To separate or to separate is precisely the meaning of the Greek word diabolos , which is translated in our Bible as devil. The devil is a divider and a sower of division. Do not be drawn into the discord that the enemy wants to cause. His motto is ‘divide and conquer’, but our motto is ‘unite and serve’. That is the royal path of connecting, loving and serving each other. We are not one because we always agree with each other, but because we serve the same Master. He binds us together. Not our equal opinions and choices.
Let me close with some beautiful words from Paul. ‘You should not think of yourselves as better than others, or brag about yourselves. No, you must be modest and consider others more important than yourself. Don’t just think about yourself, but take care of each other. Remember what Jesus Christ did. By this you will see how you should treat one another” (Philippians 2:3-5).