Land of the Mandated, Home of the Vaccinated

Mandating vaccinations opposes freedom

The Bible tells us that Christ set us free for the sake of freedom. In Galatians 5:1, God’s word states, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” If as followers of Christ, we desire to remain free, we should first find freedom from our sins. Secondarily, we should secure the physical freedoms He has blessed us with as well. For example, we should maintain the freedom to choose whether or not we are immunized.

For various reasons, there are those who believe that vaccinations should be mandated by the government. Mandating vaccinations opposes the freedom that God has already given us in order to choose to glorify Him with our bodies. We’re responsible and accountable to God for what we eat, drink, and medicate ourselves with. Gods word declares, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Mandating vaccinations is unreasonable

Most Christians and of course most Americans are aware that there are known risks involved with not receiving vaccinations. What may be understood to a lesser extent is that there are also known risks involved with receiving vaccinations. According to the National Vaccine Information Center, there are serious health concerns associated with measles vaccine reactions. “As of November 30, 2018, there have been more than 92,844 reports of measles vaccine reactions, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths following measles vaccinations made to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), including 457 related deaths, 6,902 hospitalizations, and 1,736 related disabilities. Over 50 percent of those adverse events occurred in children three years old and under.”

There are additional risks to those who have pre-existing medical conditions, such as autoimmune disease and genetic mutations. Since there are risks to being vaccinated, the “shut up and take your vaccines” argument isn’t really helpful or valid. It would be great if there were a reasonable explanation as to why it would be a good idea to allow our government the power to force people to get vaccinated but it’s doubtful one actually exists. Vaccinating ourselves and our children is our decision to make based on our relationship with the Lord and how we apply His word to our lives. On the other hand, forcing people to vaccinate is simply unreasonable.

It’s Time for Christians to be Courageous

Courage is commanded

Worry and fear can sometimes cause us to be apathetic to our faith and the people around us. Apathy often leads to destruction. Looking at the Church in the United States of America today, it’s easy to see that apathy has crept into the minds of many believers. Barna conducted a survey that demonstrates this point well. “When asked if they have a personal responsibility to share their faith with others, 73% of born again Christians said yes. When this conviction is put into practice, however, the numbers shift downward. Only half (52%) of born again Christians say they actually did share the Gospel at least once this past year to someone with different beliefs, in the hope that they might accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.”

It’s easy to become caught up with our fears when we focus on the results instead of our responsibilities. Instead of being so discouraged by the bad news in this world, we should fix our eyes on the one who offers hope. We need to start paying closer attention to what God’s word tells us rather than what the world tells us. It’s in His word that we learn about His command to be courageous. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Courage points people to God

Jesus demonstrated courage to the fullest by dying on the cross for our sins. Consider the fact that Jesus preferred to not suffer the consequences of our sins when praying to His Father. Yet understanding God’s will, Jesus willingly and courageously endured extreme suffering and ultimately sacrificed His life for us. Some Christians are martyred for their faith but not all Christians suffer to that extent.

If we live courageously, by sharing God’s love boldly with the people we know, doing the work He has planned for us, and being an example of God’s love to our neighbors, we allow God’s light to shine through us so that others may have the opportunity to know Jesus. It’s vital that we drown our fears and our worry by refocusing our attention to the work God has given us.

Courage leads to a greater impact on culture

Generally speaking, our culture is lost in many ways. As a whole, our society idolizes celebrities and polarizing politicians, is overly-dependent on the government, and considers life as mostly a personal playground to fulfill all of our pleasures. Yet, many Christians have become apathetic towards our culture. This could be partially explained by the changes to our culture over the years. Christians have seen the decay of our culture and have given up hope.

While our hope shouldn’t lie in our culture, it should be directed towards it. Whether Jesus returns tomorrow or 1,000 years from now, our faith should always be demonstrated to our culture. Showing courage to a lost world can spark great changes. We should be running towards culture instead of running away from it, not to embrace the same lifestyle but to help shape it with Christ’s love. We should be encouraged that God is with us wherever we go and that will remind us to have courage, even while facing troubling circumstances.

Jesus is Coming Soon

Define soon

Ever since Jesus came to earth over 2,000 years ago, there has been a lot of discussion among Christians about His second coming. Much of that discussion involves the first portion of Revelation 22:12, in which Jesus states “Behold, I am coming soon…” And as Christians, we understand that those words are true. Yet for some reason there seems to be a misunderstanding in regards to what soon actually means in the context of Jesus’ return.

What does soon actually mean? Does soon mean tomorrow? Does it mean a month from now? Does it mean a year from now? Or maybe the word soon is not a reference to a specific date or time at all. Consider these words from Jesus… “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36) And if no one knows the day, can one know the week, month, year, decade, or century?

The phrase “coming soon” literally means “coming swiftly, quickly or suddenly“. Therefore, Jesus will return in the blink of an eye and promptly. His return is not overdue. He will return in His perfect timing. What seems like a delay to some is only a demonstration of His patience toward those who do not yet know Him… “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

Provide context

It seems obvious that since Jesus said He was coming back soon over 2,000 years ago, He was not using the word “soon” in the context of a date or time. Yet many Christians still take his words out of context and lead others to believe that He will return in a matter of years from now. As Christians we should be careful with our words when we share with an unbelieving world. When we tell those who already have a lack of understanding of our faith, that Jesus is coming back soon, we should be cautious.

We should provide context for our statements, so that His message is delivered clearly and without confusion. When we tell others that Jesus is coming soon, we should provide further explanation in regards to His “sudden” return. We should stop frantically checking our calendars and worrying about when He will come back. Instead, we should be comforted in knowing that it will happen swiftly when He is ready.

All of this may seem trivial at first, but consider the impact speaking out of context in regards to Jesus’ return could have on non-believers. If we tell non-believers that Jesus is returning soon without any explanation, they could easily interpret that to mean that we believe Jesus will return within the next few years. And if Jesus does not return in a few years, that non-believer could easily question our beliefs, and rightfully so. Would you want to follow a faith that teaches something that doesn’t happen according to what you have been told?

Believe and be ready

There are five important truths that we can know and share about Jesus’ return…

  1. Jesus will return (Hebrews 9:28)
  2. There is hope in His return (Titus 2:3)
  3. Be ready for it (Matthew 24:44)
  4. It will happen suddenly (Matthew 24:27)
  5. We do not know when it will happen (Matthew 24:42)

Let’s end the speculation of when Christ will return and begin focusing on being obedient to Him. We should focus our attention on doing the good work that He has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). There is so much that He can accomplish through us if we focus on the work He has for us, instead of spending our lives trying to predict the timing of His return so that we can get credit for being correct in regards to “Biblical Prophecy”. And let us always remember, that He will return in His perfect timing.

Above All Else Be Kind

Controversy and tension

Over the last several months tension and strife have become the norm for our nation. A new President has been elected. Protests (both violent and non-violent) have seemingly become the main focus of the news and society as a whole. Social media has become an environment of anger and hate in many instances. In general, there are a lot of people choosing to be heard over choosing being kind.

It would be easy for us as Christians to simply ignore all of the problems in our nation by withdrawing from social media and turning away from any controversial discussions. However, I am reminded of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Kindness and truth

As we learn from that same sermon, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Removing ourselves from controversial discussions may at times seem like the right thing to do. And there may be times when that could be true. Although, if we look at Jesus’ life we will see countless examples of Him speaking the truth in love when controversial discussions took place. For example, consider His encounter with the woman caught in adultery and the Pharisees who sought “justice”. Instead of ignoring the Pharisees when they mentioned what the law said in regards to the woman’s sin, he answered them brilliantly by saying, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Jesus wasn’t rude in his response, but neither did he ignore the controversial discussion. He spoke in truth and love in the midst of controversy. He simply reminded everyone in that group that they all had sin in common. While it may seem easier to remove ourselves from a controversial discussion, it may be perfectly appropriate to respond in truth and kindness. After all, our light shines brightest when we let it out for the whole world to see… Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” Matthew 5:15

Sword Free Zones

That time Jesus banned swords

Sword violence was rampant while Jesus lived on the earth. Fortunately for those who lived during that time, Jesus issued a decree and banned swords from certain areas of the nations. Thankfully, sword violence decreased dramatically once Jesus established a law that permanently removed swords from those particular areas. Potential criminals agreed to no longer carry swords in those areas and the people were safe.

Does that story sound accurate? It shouldn’t, because it isn’t true. Yet it is the same type of fantasy land that some Christians live in today. Our nation experienced another tragedy last week and some Christians believe that the way to fix the issue is by making it more difficult for people to own firearms. They believe in so called “common sense” gun laws and proclaim that… “those who live by the sword, die by the sword”.

Why didn’t Jesus ban swords or create sword free zones when He walked the earth? He certainly had the authority to. That would have brought peace to the earth, right? No, but the answer is quite simple. Jesus knows where violence comes from. Violence is rooted in sin. Our sinful desires are what cause us to fight, steal, and murder. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” James 4:1-2

Weapons aren’t the problem

Sword free zones wouldn’t have solved anything, because mankind is rebellious to God. Mankind has experienced murder from almost the very beginning. Cain killed Abel with what some scholars believe was a rock (Genesis 4:8). David killed Goliath with a sling and a stone (1 Samuel 17:49). Members of the Sanhedrin stoned Stephen to death (Acts 7:59-60). Things haven’t changed much throughout history. Sinful mankind will use just about any tool they can get their hands on to murder.

Jesus knows that weapons are not the cause for murder. Jesus knows that murder comes from the sin in our hearts. And Jesus knows that banning weapons does not change hearts. Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” Matthew 15:19

Die by the sword

Jesus never told his disciples to get rid of their swords. In fact, Jesus told his disciples to purchase a sword (Luke 22:36). Jesus did say the following words… “Put your sword back in its place, Jesus said to him, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Matthew 26:52

However, those words must be taken in context. Jesus was speaking directly to Peter after he cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest. Jesus was telling Peter that he would die if he didn’t sheath his sword. It was not a blanket statement in regards to owning or carrying weapons.

Instead of advocating against firearms, we should be praying for the victims of the tragedy in Orlando, along with their families. We should be seeking Jesus and asking that our hearts would be right with Him. We should confess our sins to Him and repent. We should be praying that He heals our land. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14