I am aware that some readers may still be thinking through the issues associated with vaccination against COVID. I offer the following as some personal reflections on how I’ve approached these issues.
There are many good reasons why someone might choose to be vaccinated against COVID-19. It might be required by their employer. They might wish to reduce the likelihood they will be infected with the virus and/or pass it on to a family member, friend, neighbour or work colleague. The Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship has prepared a video that gives a thorough overview of the relevant medical issues: www. cmdfa.org.au/covid-vaccination.
Beyond that, is there any particular reason why a Christian might make this choice? I believe there is – and it has to do with freedom.
In his letter to the Galatians the Apostle Paul outlines a Christian understanding of freedom in these words – ‘For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself ”.’
Through his death and rising again Jesus has set His people free – free from sin, from death, from the curse of the law and from destructive spiritual forces. But this is also freedom for something. It is freedom for the sake of others, becoming their slave just as Jesus became a slave for the sake of our salvation (Philippians 2:5-8). Whenever we use our freedom as an excuse for just doing what we want we misunderstand what it’s all about. Whenever we use our freedom to love our neighbour we become more like Jesus, the most truly free human being who ever lived.
What has all this to do with vaccinations? Just this – being vaccinated means I will have more opportunities to serve people than otherwise. Without being vaccinated there will be many places I won’t be able to go – hospitals, aged care facilities, the homes of vulnerable people. In not being able to go to those places I will lose opportunities to serve and share Jesus with people who live and work there. In losing those opportunities to serve I will actually become less free, less the person that Jesus is calling me to be.
In discussions about vaccinations the issue of ‘freedom’ is often raised. Freedom should matter to Christians. But the freedom that matters most to us should be freedom for the sake of others and for the service of Jesus.
May God give you wisdom as you consider these matters and may God give us grace to witness to God’s care and power in these times.
Thankyou Bishop Mark, I do hope that many will read your valuable words today. We do have freedom of choice and it is up to us to use it wisely, knowing that God’s hand is with us and that would approve.
Thank you Bishop Mark. So well explained and so important to listen to. Let’s all love our neighbour as ourselves by having that choice 🙏