We're now living in a time of great polarization. Here in Italy, and in many other parts of the world, there seems to be a movement to divide the population into two groups: vaccinated and unvaccinated. Can I say that "v" word here? Umm... yes, actually I can because this is our own blog space. Phew! (Crazy how we must consider our words based on what platforms we are using, isn't it?) Two years ago, we could have never imagined something like this becoming reality. Yet here we are! Combine this specific polarization regarding vaccines with the new push of cancel culture, and the stage is set for ... interesting times, to say the least. Yikes!
It wasn't long ago when different views and opinions were not just tolerated, but also encouraged, welcomed, and respected. All of us are in a process of learning and growing, but our growth and maturity are greatly hindered when we do not permit honest debate and differences of opinion. Canceling people who disagree with us or see things differently than us is a dead-end street. I'd argue as well that it is simply not the Christian way.
If Christ were to cancel us for every time we saw things differently than God does, we would all be damned for eternity. Consider for a moment how Jesus dealt with Peter when Peter disagreed about Jesus' upcoming death and resurrection.
And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” - Mt. 16:22
Was Jesus done with Peter after this irrational thought and differing view? Did He cancel Peter and remove him from his social spheres? No! Jesus lovingly rebuked him but did not cast him off or cancel him. Later when Satan would ask permission to sift Peter like wheat, we read that Jesus interceded, supported, and strengthened Peter. This is the way of our Lord - grace, and mercy. This is the Christian way as well.
31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” - Luke 22:31-32
How are you treating those who view things differently from you today?
Are you falling into the fleshly and worldly trap of "cancel culture"?
Or are you guided by the Spirit to bear the fruit of the Spirit in your relationships?
Are you demonstrating proper humility that comes from a sober reality of the truth that you yourself lack full knowledge in all things?
Are you demonstrating Christian virtue by being mindful that you yourself would be cast off by Christ Himself if He were to cancel all who disagree with Him?
In your relational situations, are you responding in the flesh as the world would want you, or are you filled with the Spirit to respond as Christ would have you?
In the near future, I'm planning a teaching lesson on the responsibility of Christians regarding authorities; in particular when authorities go beyond their God-established realm to mandate what image-bearers of God must put into their bodies. (People are granted by God bodily autonomy and no authority has the right to force anything into our body - sexually in cases of rape and molestation, but also medically in cases of vaccinations. Corrupt authorities can ask us for taxes and we should pay, but their image is not on people. People have God's image and only God has authority to say what we can and cannot put in our bodies - "render to God what is God's"). More on this later in another post.
In today's post, I'd like to highlight simply that we must be Spirit-led and gracious regarding these current issues we are all facing. It is my view, that everyone should be free to choose for themselves to take or not take a vaccine. My issue is not with the vaccines, but rather with the mandates that are illegitimate and potentially unscientific as well. I have friends whom I love that have chosen to get vaccinated. I'm thankful they can choose. I have friends whom I love that have chosen not to get vaccinated. I'm thankful that they can choose as well.
Recently, a supporter ceased to support the PMc ministry and she stated that it was because as of late we speak about these very issues. She has decided to get vaccinated and perceived that we are against this so she decided she can no longer support in good conscience. I understand her concern but disagree with her conclusion. I'm thankful to God that she is free to choose what to put in her body, and I'm thankful to God that she has supported us as long as she has. She has been a blessing for many years! I respect her decision to cease giving. We trust the Lord will provide. It is good and right to support ministries as God leads and directs us.
In a certain sense, it seems (though I hope I'm wrong) that she has sought to cancel us because we see things differently than her. (I'm aware that this has happened in many ministries recently). I'm also aware that at least 3 PMc ministry partners in the past month have actually decided to increase their support, potentially for the same reason; because we do not shy away from talking about sensitive but necessary subjects of our day that have huge ramifications.
Anyway, in the estimation of this person whom we love dearly but appears to have canceled us (for sure has ceased supporting financially based on this issue), the best way to love one's neighbor is to get vaccinated... I believe this is a common line of thought among many, in particular those in seeker-friendly churches (and those who are not members of any church at all). It's flawed reasoning, as I see it, to assume that the best way to love and care for others in this time is to simply get vaccinated. Like most things in life, it's just not that simple. To love others who are image-bearers of God well, we should also desire their ability to express their God-given freedom to choose what is best for their God-given bodies. We should also want them to have full and uncensored access to various treatments, information, and data.
Take for example this argument. Just yesterday, (January 19, 2022), the CDC published on their site that people who have previously been infected with the Covid virus have natural immunity which is SUPERIOR to vaccination. You can hear more about this HERE or HERE.
In the case of my family, we have had the virus and therefore have natural immunity. (Did you know, by the way, that on Instagram the hashtag #naturalimmunity is not functional? It's true, and it's alarming to anyone who loves the truth. Those who love the truth of the Gospel, by necessity should love and value free speech as well. This is another very important point on this matter, but we'll save that for another day, Lord willing). Our natural immunity, as I shared in our most recent newsletter, was recently put to the test. Three times in a period of two weeks we were with a family in their home to visit and lead a Bible study. We spent 2-3 hours together at the table. Then a couple of days later they notified us that they just tested positive for covid. All four of them had the virus with full symptoms. We then also went to get tested so we would know if we should quarantine or not. My whole family tested negative. We were and remained, negative.
If we reason well, we should therefore note that it is certainly not unloving if we decide not to vaccinate. We are protected and not able to spread the virus if having no symptoms, (according to highly esteemed Christian and medical expert, Dr. Peter McCullough). In light of this one argument of natural immunity, affirmed now by the CDC themselves, can we really argue that mandates are good for the population? Millions and millions of people have natural immunity, yet they are being forced against their will and bodily autonomy is given to them by God Himself. If they refuse to be vaccinated they lose their jobs and ability to provide for their families. As Christians, I don't believe it is right for us to support such mandates that inflict people this way. I'm not sure how any Christian can honestly affirm that mandates of this nature are God-honoring and right.
If the state authorities were to say that we must all cut off our left ear, would we submit and obey? Is it loving, to support an activity like this that would harm our families, friends, and neighbors? It's quite clear that it is not. It's the same principle - no authorities (established by God) have legitimate authority over the bodily autonomy of image-bearers of God. The Christian should understand this most of all because as we know from 1 Corinthians 6, our bodies no longer belong to us but to our Lord. Our bodies are now temples of the Holy Spirit and ultimately, even we do not have authority over them, Jesus does.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. - 1 Cor. 6:19-20
Something else that we cannot ignore is the vaccine data (VAERS numbers are very revealing and it's common knowledge that the majority of incidents are not even being registered). For starters, we must know that this vaccine is different than all previous in numerous ways. The CDC actually changed the definition of a vaccine (another link HERE) after realizing that this one didn't render people immune. The FDA approved it without having an open discussion panel with all the experts, (first time). As brother Jeff Durbin put it in his recent sermon titled, A Christian Response to Mandatory Cookies, "The long-term data doesn't yet exist and the short-term data is alarming". The FDA insisted on making the world wait 75 years before the release of the data. If we love God and we love neighbor, do we really want to support government authorities injecting people's bodies against their will? Being aware of both what we do know and what we don't know, I don't think it wise to support such an act against the bodily autonomy of creatures made in God's image.
Please note - It's possible, I believe, to be in favor of getting this vaccine while not being in favor of the mandates. This distinction is important to understand, especially in polarizing times like this when the evil practice of cancel-culture is so strongly encouraged. I fear there are numbers of Christians, perhaps of older age, who have not yet had the virus and are therefore thankful for the ability to get some form of protection via vaccination. Yet they have not realized it is indeed possible to desire the vaccination (rightly so) while at the same time opposing forced vaccination mandates on fellow image-bearers who do not desire the vaccination for any number of legitimate concerns they may have regarding their own body and families.
Additional note - It's entirely another discussion, but it is worth mentioning that numerous doctors have had great success with treating patients and greatly reducing hospitalizations using proven and effective FDA-approved pharmaceuticals like Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine. I say this to point out, that elderly and vulnerable people have other ways to protect and care for themselves, but unfortunately, this too has been censored, kept from their knowledge, and largely remained inaccessible to them.
How should you respond regarding people of a different persuasion?
As image-bearers of God always have, with respect and great humility. I pray that we would resist the temptation to join in on the ungodly practice of cancel culture, especially over differences of opinions and especially as fellow Christians. We must come to grips that the issues of our day are multi-layered and quickly changing. God alone is all-knowing. We are finite. Our sources of knowledge are not all trustworthy, just like our leaders, even the best of them, are not without flaws, sins, limitations, and blind spots.
Throughout this pandemic, amazingly, we have seen on numerous occasions that what is today considered a conspiracy theory, can months later be found actual and true. What can today have you de-platformed can tomorrow be factual news on the CDC official website. This very new revelation from the CDC that previously infected people have significantly superior protection than vaccinated people is very telling. Anyone, even the world's leading experts, who said this in these previous 23 months were considered a person spreading false information. They were condemned as evildoers, canceled, de-platformed, and removed from social media sites... Are they later sought out for forgiveness? It appears not...
Let us be quick to listen and slow to speak, brothers and sisters. Let us walk in step with the Spirit of God and resist the temptation to act in the flesh, to judge quickly, or to cancel our brothers and sisters in Christ. The flesh and the Spirit are opposed (Galatians 5) and when situations arise, as they did in the Galatian church, we must show our true nature by how we respond. If we are truly united to Christ, we are not to respond in the flesh like the world. The world responds naturally and well in the flesh, it's all they know and they want us to do the same. But we are to be light and an example of charity. We are to be lovers of the truth and lovers of open and honest discourse with those who see or believe differently than we do.
There is a real polarization happening, but it is not necessary and it can be avoided. May the Lord help us to shine bright in these dark, divisive, and polarizing times.
17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
-- Jude 17-25
Written by Jesse Schreck