Pastor Steve DRAFTJS_BLOCK_KEY:f70nsffairs of this world seem to be unbelievable. We have all watched or sat with someone who has lost their employment because of their right of body autonomy of what they will and will not allow injected into themselves. We understand that not everyone is a believer, nor do they profess Christ, but what happens when a Christian is forced to go against conscience from their Christian employer?
The first thing to remember is, this is not a legal point of view. I am not a lawyer and this article is not about law. Second, be prepared as it will be a fight. If anything has become clear over the past 21 months, individual rights mean nothing these days. Even organizations like the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal are reinterpreting laws instead of protecting citizens when those laws are being attacked. So this article is by no means the silver bullet to this issue.
Many Christians now find themselves in the same predicament that many other workers have been in, and that is their employers are now creating these “Vaccine and COVID Response” policies. Most of these policies within a so-called Christian organization such as a church or agency typically have the same argument. Even those agencies that are not Christian, just operating under some Christian ethics. Recently, it was brought to my attention of such an employer now requiring their employees to be fully vaccinated. Disclaimer: As I previously mentioned I am not here to argue the legality of it – but to assist you, the reader, how to work through the language as many places are taking it upon themselves to teach doctrine when they have no business usurping one’s church or faith understanding.
Part 1. The opening.
Christ’s self-giving love sets a relevant moral example for everyone in our communities…he taught true humility values others above yourself, not looking to your own interests, but each of you are to look to the interest of others (Phil 2:3-4).
Response: First, let us look at the passage the employer is using to instruct their workers regarding this “valuing others” Philippians 2:3–4
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his interests but also to the interests of others. (ESV)
Context, many Jewish teachers were coming behind Paul to distort the message of the Gospel. Further, there were those with selfish ambition and taking advantage of others. However, this has nothing to do with health, compliance, or coercion. Paul is simply urging the church by reminding them of Kingdom living. Since we have had great compassion shown to us (by Grace through Faith in Christ), we are to show compassion to others. Therefore we look to our faults and do not count others’ faults. We step off our thrones of self-righteousness and surrender to our Redeemer, who is Christ. Second, to this, calling out Christ’s self-giving love sets a relevant moral example. We must remember, Jesus indeed was compassionate. He gave sight to the blind, the lame walked, and the dead brought to life. He did feed the hungry and received the leper, but he NEVER failed to uphold the law of God. Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (ESV)
This is important because the law is clear. Jesus taught very clearly in Matthew 22:37 by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might (ESV). Then Love your neighbour as yourself (Mark 12:29-31). So Jesus would never command someone to love humanity over their love for the Father. God is always paramount. Loving one’s neighbour is never a justification for disobeying God.
Part 2: The Reasoning
As such *************** believes it is imperative to take actions both individually and as a society to prevent the spread of Covid 19. These actions help make it possible for people … to safely resume inn-person activity in their roles as citizens, employees, volunteers, and people of faith.
Response: First, the measures that are being put forward do not stop the spread of Covid-19. Let’s look at face-masks. Since the pandemic’s beginning, the Ontario government has already stated face-masks do not stop the spread of COVID. Further, vaccination does not stop transmission.This found in a BBC article titled, Can You Still Transmit COVID-19 after Vaccination? The very opening of the article expresses, “no vaccine can completely stop infection or transmission.” Further, there are increased reports of increased cases of myocarditis and Pericarditis, which are not fully being reported by the mainstream media. Currently, double vaccinated people are still required to be tested, masked and take other precautions. Putting these areas aside, the rationale for the policy is to protect citizens, and employees, which could face adverse side effects if they were to get vaccinated. So the statement is about the collective, not the individual, and they are requesting one violate their conscience for this reason. The employer is trumping the faith belief of the individual, which should not happen under Human Rights or under the banner of religion.
Part 3: Christian Identity.
Those who identify as Christian are further challenged by Jesus’ command to; “love one another, as I have loved you. So you must love one another” (John 13:34). John later describes that Jesus demonstrated this love in sacrificing his life for us, and we ought to lay our lives down for our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:16).
Response: This verse is about Christ speaking to the disciples prior to his departure. Thus this is for the entire body of believers. We are commanded to love as there is work to do. Love in this context is from the Greek, ἀγαπάω. What is important is the term love is not really a love towards humanity, but almost always used towards God, to Christ. He is the inspiration for our love. It is divine love. So there is self-sacrifice to God. It is a new commandment, not as a trumping of all other commandments as somehow they cease to exist. The commandment is pointing to what is now expected. We are dealing with motive here. This takes us back to the issue that Jesus never commanded us to love neighbour more than God – the love is to continue in Christ’s work. Which, by the way, is not to avoid the sick, but lay hands on them, pray for them and so forth. Again, when organizations try to use this example, they are in danger, and therefore the vaccination mandate has more layers for objection of a believer.
No one is denying Jesus demonstrated his love, but it goes beyond cherry-picking verses to satisfy a mandate. First, the love of Christ must be evident. He laid his life down freely. This laying down is unique, and a one-time, never duplicated event. Christ’s work on the cross was redemptive. It was a propitiatory sacrifice. It is something that cannot ever connect to anything we can do. Again fairness is needed; Jesus’ death is an example of self-sacrificing love. Yes, the Christian is to follow and imitate Christ, to lay their lives down, but NOT so that someone may go to work or a social outing. We lay it down for Christ. For the furtherance of the Gospel, Kingdom living – not so that Sally can be in her cubical. Major caution is needed when we try to apply things in a work environment where the Gospel is not paramount. In a church setting, however, there should never be a mandate based on this rationale.
Now what is very important here is the flip-side. Christian employers who are using these examples are one-sided. As we too can take from these verses, one is to love another and not have hatred for another. That hatred must be put away and one should lay their life down. So why is this not being done for those who choose to honour Christ and not take specific medical treatments? Why are so many not dying to self and extending compassion to those who reject mandated injections? We are not to exclude, then why are employers excluding believers? There is the sin of hypocrisy that needs to be addressed in this regard.
Part 4: Compliance
While complying with public health mandates seldom involves death, there are times when being inconvenienced or taking risks ourselves so that others can be welcomed back into the community displays a measure of Christ-shaped sacrificial love.
Response: So is this employer suggesting taking certain vaccines may cause death? Are we to tempt God? Are we to treat our health decisions like that of the Pentecostal Snake handlers of the American south? What types of risks did the disciples make? It was not for the sake of ease. They risked their lives spreading the message of Christ in missionary work and planting churches. They risked their health by going to the unknown. They risked their lives by defying Rome, and other religious leaders, all of which one can find if they study the book The Acts of the Apostles. Christ never sacrificed so that people can reenter their community – but to enter his.
John 18:36 ESV 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
Philippians 3:20 ESV 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
Hebrews 13:14 ESV 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
Luke 22:29–30 ESV 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Part 4: Conclusion
Our fundamental belief in a relational God who demonstrates His love for His children through Christ’s death and resurrection means that we desire more than ever for people who use our services to be safely welcome back into full community participation, contributing in so many ways, including their churches and faith communities.
Response: Any time one looks at the obedient life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ as a means to justify employment or community they have wandered off the path. Christ was in complete obedience to the Father, and his finished work was so that God would be both Just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Christ Jesus (Rom 3:23-26). So unless any place of employment is clear and open about their faith and the fulfillment of the Scriptures and great commission, such a position does not justify requesting people violate their bodies or conscience because of misplaced Bible references.
I do not know if breaking down this policy will help you but I pray it is a start. We have answers, we just need to dig for them in Scripture. More than ever, it is clear that individuals need to be part of a sound, Bible teaching congregation where the pastors and elders are well versed in the Scriptures and willing to take a stand. The battle is brutal, and currently, it feels like going up a mountain in a blizzard, wearing slippery shoes at night. But when you are in a community of like-minded believers, we can strengthen one another in these areas. We can provide, spiritually speaking lamps, warm clothes and shoes with traction. I hope this run down at the very least guides your thinking on how to respond to these types of coercion tactics moving forward,
In His Grace,