Though I live surrounded by words and deep thought, it seems far less often of late that I find the divine inspiration to string them together and write to you.
I do think of you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, continually, though I often question what good my words could add to the billions already about. In a time of such confusion, how can mine bring clarity? Perhaps it stops me from writing to you as often as I desire and as I should. If such is the case, I ask forgiveness. The thought that you many have lacked encouragement in the midst of trials or needed a glimpse of the beauty of our breathtaking Savior from my shaky little pen compels it now to move.
Please allow me to share this article with you for it came from my own time of recent contemplation. As we read it together, I ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten the eyes of our understanding so that we may as brothers and sisters, dwell together in unity and carry on the great work to which we are called.
To vax or not to vax.
I thought this was the prevailing question of the hour for who on earth has not had to ponder it recently? Following a time of much confusion and questioning within my own heart, I sought God's word for counsel and found myself immersed in Paul's writings to the saints in Rome from the book of Romans. It became clear rather quickly that a question of far greater significance than our title suggests emerged.
In chapter fourteen, Paul lays out a scenario concerning a strong man and a weak man. He first instructs the Roman saints to receive those who are weak in faith but not to argue with them about their differences.
him that is weak in the faith, receive, but not to doubtful disputations. rom. 14:1
The Greek meaning of the word, receive, essentially means granting access to one's heart and taking one by the hand in order to lead them. Quite the opposite of arguing, isn't it?
Paul expounds on his important scenario between the two and issues further instruction. One believes that he may eat all things and another, who is weak, eats herbs only.
Let not him who eats despise him that doesn't eat and let not him who doesn't eat judge him who eats for God has received him. rom. 14:3
He continues with a powerful question in verse four:
Who are you that judges another man's servant?
That question is deserving of its own article as it resonates deep within my heart, though I must continue as Paul does.
To his own master he stands or falls. Yes, he will be held up for God is able to make him stand. rom. 14:4
He then issues a profound charge. "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."
He adds to the meat eater and the non-meat eater, one who observes a certain day and one who doesn't. Whether in observing or not observing or in eating or not eating, they do so, as Paul states, "as unto the Lord."
Paul repeats his question but more directly this time.
"Why do you judge your brother...for we all stand before the judgement seat of Christ and every one will give account of himself to God."
He follows his question up with a clear directive in verse thirteen. "Let us not therefore judge one another any more but judge this instead that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. For he that in these things serve Christ, is acceptable to God and approved of men."
Not far into this chapter I began to imagine that meat eater and non-meat eater could conceivably be synonymous with the vaxer and the non-vaxer of our day.
So, the question I set out to get an answer for changed entirely.
to judge or not to judge?
Yes, that was the new question that began to emerge and with each verse I read, my heart on the matter changed too. Paul said there is something we should absolutely not judge yet something else we absolutely should.
As I continued verse by verse, a chart popped into my mind that made his instruction crystal clear.
In light of this parallel, it did my own heart good to be reminded of what it means to judge.
In the Greek, it means:
to give an opinion upon
"I know," Paul says, "and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him that esteems anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if your brother be grieved with your meat, now you do not walk charitably. Destroy not him with your meat, for whom Christ died.
And he repeats his profound point in perhaps the most climactic verse in his discourse:
"For meat, destroy not the work of God."
Beloved, should I advocate for or against something whereby obtaining the facts necessary to make a fully informed decision is nearly impossible?
What I know to be true is God's word and Paul's teaching on this matter is undeniable. So, are you for or against the vaccine you may ask? Does it really matter for to that question I must respond as Paul has instructed.
What I am for is the study of God's word to the degree and frequency that each person's heart be fully persuaded in his own mind. What I am against is the division; the separation of a group of people our collective Savior bled and died to call his own.
The separation must stop. A house divided against itself cannot and will not stand.
Have we so little to do as servants of the Most High that we would pick at our brothers and sisters; those weaker or stronger perhaps, like we would a scab? Are our eyes so easily distracted from our course?
As Paul asked the believers of his day, so I ask the believers of ours: Are we destroying the work of God for meat?
There is a battle which we have been called to fight and Paul told us the way to overcome.
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things whereby one may edify another. rom. 14:19
As I finished up the chapter I sat rather silently asking myself some hard questions.
Have I insisted on making my own point before my brothers and sisters?
Have I condemned others who believe differently on the matter?
Have I followed after peace and taken others by the hand to lead them instead of argue with them?
Finally, Paul concludes the matter and so must I dear one.
Hast thou faith? Have it to yourself before God. Rom. 14:22.
With my whole heart,