This year, 2020, has been a scary one for many people. We’ve got the Covid-19 pandemic raging, there were a great many protests in the streets, and our rather polarized nation held a presidential election. Now that it’s the end of the year, we have a new president elect, no violent protests taking place, and two approved vaccines that have started being distributed. You’d think people would start feeling more hopeful. The social media posts that I’ve been seeing the last two weeks, however, reveal that many people are living in fear, and I’m not talking about those who are facing the possibility of losing their jobs or their homes due to the recession. I’m talking about people like this woman who said she’s going to take all of her money out of the bank before our new president takes office, the man who said that cash will be worthless soon, and the many who are saying there’s no way they’re going to take the vaccine because [insert false rumor here]. Seeing comments such as these has made me realize that people are buying into conspiracy theories and letting fear take over their thoughts and actions .
What’s truly shocking to me is that some of the people buying into the conspiracy theories claim to be staunch Christians. I know this because of the posts I’ve been seeing on a Christian Facebook group that, until yesterday, I was a member of. One of the members posted, “I’m not getting it because I’m healthy, and there’s a 99% chance that I’ll be fine if I get the virus. For all we know, the vaccine will give us the mark of the beast.” Really? REALLY? I couldn’t ignore this comment. After some thought, I politely pointed out that each vaccine has been administered to over 30,000 people and no one has died from it. I also responded that most people need to get vaccinated if we’re to develop herd immunity, but I was quite tempted to add, If you’re okay with contracting the virus and unknowingly passing it to others who aren’t as healthy and may die, or if you’re okay with having it mutate into a new strain and then passing that new strain along to others, I really don’t think you need to worry about getting the mark of the beast. You’ve got a much bigger problem…the mark that God can see on your heart.
Jesus states in 1 John 4:18, “There is no love in fear, but perfect love casts out all fear”. Can we honestly say that we love God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves if we are living in fear? If we have an “every man for himself” attitude? No! You cannot love God and let fear control your conscious behavior. (I’m not talking about the kind of momentary fear you experience when a vehicle in the Walmart parking lot that is barreling toward you. We all have momentary fear that gives us the fight, flight, or freeze response. We have no control over that type of fear. I’m talking about fear that you hold onto that controls your long-term decisions.) Jesus said in John 14, “Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid. Trust in God. Trust in me also.” How can we assert that we are following Christ but then not trust God, and instead, let our fears rule our hearts and minds?
What about this classic from Psalms: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”…He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways…“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him…” Psalm 91:1-16. Do you have this type of faith, or are you acting like the panicked disciples in the rocking boat when the wind and the waves picked up and Jesus said, “Oh you of little faith. Why are you so afraid?” Matthew 8:26.
I do have to caution against the other extreme, however. There are some Christians who are saying, “I don’t need to get the vaccine. God will protect me.” Let’s not forget that the bible also says, “Do not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” Even Jesus didn’t do that when the devil was tempting him in the desert. Of course, God wants us to prosper and not come to harm, but we must trust in him while also remaining humble. I must add here that God gave us science, logic, and reason, and I think that science can serve a higher purpose. It’s quite possible that the vaccines may be answers to the prayers of millions who have been asking God to help us with this pandemic.
I urge you to let go of the fear you are holding onto today and put your trust in God. Pray to Him to help you discern fact from fiction and then show others that you love them as you love yourself by wearing a mask and getting a vaccine.