It has been reported that only half of white evangelicals are likely to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. Evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham have tried to encourage the skeptical to forego their hesitancy and get vaccinated. He insists that being vaccinated is consistent with the message of Jesus. Graham goes as far as to say, “I think if there were vaccines available in the time of Christ, Jesus would have made reference to them and used them.
Francis Collins, the director of the National Institute for Health and self-proclaimed evangelical Christian, refers to getting the vaccine as a “love your neighbor moment.” This seems to be one of the biggest go to points when encouraging people to follow Covid guidelines. The encouragement that lockdowns, social distancing, masks and now vaccines are the way we “love our neighbor.” Conversely it also communicates that anyone who has any opposition to any of these guidelines do not love their neighbor. They only think of themselves.
National voices and the woke cancel culture says its time to shun those who refuse the vaccine. Don’t befriend them, don’t hire them, don’t associate with them. They are bad people. They should be excommunicated from society, and this is the very definition of loving our neighbor.
Loving your neighbor is a common theme throughout the message of Jesus and the Gospel. Jesus said it was one of the greatest commandments. Second only to loving God with all your heart, soul and mind. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus made sure to define who exactly was our neighbor. In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus conveys that God requires that we love those in need even our sworn enemies.
Dan Mohler, a well-known preacher, stated that wearing masks was the loving thing to do because people were so afraid. His view was that masks weren’t harmful to wear, so we should wear it in order to allay the fears of those we would come in contact with. Wearing masks made the fearful comfortable and was therefore a way to “love your neighbor.”
However, the vaccine takes the game to the next level. We are assured that vaccines are safe and effective. Facebook puts the disclaimer on every post about the vaccine. The main stream news media repeats with a universal voice that vaccines are safe. It’s funny how the CDC puts it, basically they say there’s no evidence to suggest that the risks associated with the vaccine outweigh the good that they are trying to achieve – herd immunity.
The thing that none of these voices are telling you is that there are risks. They even go to great lengths to make sure that those sharing stories and testimonies of adverse reactions and/or death are silenced. Facebook removed the group where people shared their stories of adverse reactions. And while the CDC does publish adverse reactions and deaths on their website, they do not promote the findings, and stick to the party line of “everything’s good – everything’s safe.” To date, more people have died this year as a result of the Covid-19 vaccine then the past 20 years combined. According to the CDC, 4,178 Americans have died from receiving COVID shots.
So what about the encouragement to get the vaccine to show love for your neighbor? Let’s not get bogged down in the science behind the vaccine or the guidelines. Let’s simply deal with the suggestion that the loving thing to do is to do whatever you can to allay the fears of your neighbors who quite frankly have been scared to death by this virus. Your neighbors have been terrified to leave their house, terrified to breathe fresh air, terrified to shake hands, hug, dine in, smile . . . If you break the rules you run the risk of certain death. If not for yourself, you are most definitely probably going to kill someone else through your selfish, reckless behavior.
So what would Jesus do? Would He wear a mask? Would He get vaccinated? Would He be on a commercial with other celebrities encouraging everyone to get the shot? Would He incorporate getting the vaccine into His sermon on loving your neighbor? Is getting the vaccine, the very definition of what it means to love your neighbor as yourself? What examples do we see in the life of Jesus where He demonstrated going out of His way to make people feel comfortable in their fears?
There’s the time where the religious leaders were freaked out because the disciples didn’t wash their hands before they ate. Surprisingly, Jesus didn’t rebuke His disciples. Instead He rebuked the religious leaders and used the moment to explain that outer things didn’t defile a man, but rather the condition of his heart.
There was also the time when Jesus failed to freak out when the boat was in the midst of a terrible storm. The disciples were freaking out thinking they were going to die while Jesus slept. Even after they woke Him up, He still didn’t join them in their anxiety and fear. He actually didn’t freak out. He rebuked the wind and the waves. He rebuked the storm. He did not join in the pandemonium.
Time and time again, we read in the scriptures to not be afraid. Jesus uttered these words when He defied the laws of gravity by walking on water. Love casts out fear. It does not coddle it. Love does not attempt to soothe or allay fear. It simply casts it out. It is impossible to live in both fear and love.
Nowhere do we ever find Jesus empowering someone’s fear. He always confronts fear with truth and with love. Jesus claimed to be the great physician and healer. Many verses say that He healed all who came to Him. Everyone was healed. What need would such a doctor have of vaccines? For a man who with a word calms the storm, heals the sick and diseased, cast out evil spirits and raised the dead, what medicine could enhance such a practice? His word, His touch was all the medicine ever needed in any and every situation. Sure one time He used mud and spit, but I would hardly make a case for their medicinal properties. In fact, He chose two of the most dirty, germ filled, unclean mediums to demonstrate the power that He possessed over every facet of the human body.
He didn’t need to use medicine to accomplish the will of the Father to heal the sick so why would he need to take medicine in order to stay healthy? The answer is quite simple, he wouldn’t. So then the question becomes, if He didn’t need it, would He do it to comfort those who were living in terror? Again, the answer might surprise you, He wouldn’t.
Jesus never coddled someone in their fear. He never encouraged them to just hold on. He never reassured them that if they refused medical help they would surely die. That wasn’t the Jesus of the Bible.