Returning to fellowship

The time will soon come when we can resume face to face fellowship. Praise God! We are all looking forward to that. But I feel like a parent, excited when the extended family re-unites, and yet nervous about certain possibilities.


Some people will be missing. Perhaps for medical reasons or personal reasons – they will be unvaccinated. What is the Christian way to respond to this? In the 1st century, there were pandemics but no vaccines. Perhaps eating meat sacrificed to idols is the closest parallel.

Can I suggest that we view those who hold the opposite view to you as a weaker brother? Others ought to do what they believe is right before God and be comfortable with their own conscience. It is not our place to cause them to stumble by suggesting that they must have been vaccinated – or that they have set a dangerous precedent by allowing the government to require them to be vaccinated (1 Cor 12:29-33).


Paul concludes that on topics over which Christians disagree, my goal is that “I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” (v33)


In addition, can I suggest that labels will do more harm than good? To label another as an anti-vaxer, or sheep blindly following the herd is to characterise a person around one trait. This is simplistic, unkind, and contentious.


Debatable matters have always had the potential to divide. Now is no different. Instead, let us enjoy meeting together as the people of God, and so long as it depends on us, to live at peace with one another.


Clarification

Last week I wrote a blog about blame. A couple of people have responded by asking if I was referring to Simone Biles. Simone Biles, so I now read, was abused by a medical professional, and her sport failed to support and protect her.


I was unaware of the details of Biles' trauma. My reflections were on the topic of blame in general and had more to do with my own experiences of being blamed or blaming others myself.


There are situations in life that are unjust, immoral, and over which we have no influence. In the ancient world of Jesus, about one-fifth of the world was born into slavery. Those children were not to blame, nor are victims of abuse. Where possible, it is right to stand up against evil, protect ourselves and others, and bring justice and wellbeing.


There remain many other situations in life where, so the old maxim goes, it takes two to tango. When I reflected on blame last week, I had such circumstances in mind. My apologies if any ambiguity in my reflections caused misunderstanding or grief.


Rev David Rietveld

Senior Minister




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