When was the last time someone said to you, “I was wrong and I am sorry”? For some people these words have never passed their lips. Some of these people may never have made a mistake, done anything wrong, or ever needlessly ever hurt someone so they may never had an occasion where they needed to say those words. But, if you have ever had someone tell you something that they knew was untrue as if it was true, or claimed that something was a fact that you later discovered was actually not a fact — and so did they — have they ever come back to you and said, “I was wrong and I am sorry”? If this has never been your experience, it’s about to be — because I’m going to say it to you.
Sometimes the obvious is little difficult to recognise. That’s why you might not have recognised that over the last few decades we have been transitioning out of our old world into the new world that we are now living in! We will remember the old world as the time when the world was much simpler, less connected, and international travel was restricted to the wealthy. You might recognise our new world by noting that it’s much more complex, much more connected, much more technological, much more instant, and much more travelled. Added to this, the old world was when things took time. When you ‘wrote’ to someone overseas it took weeks for your ‘message’ to be delivered. In this new and complex world you can communicate with someone on the other side of the planet instantly and even do it by live video! Back in the old world, power was centralised – movies used to come out Hollywood, software used to be developed in Silicon Valley, all fashion originate out of Paris, and the world’s financial powerhouses were all based based in Wall Street. In today’s new world, the most watched moving pictures are made by teenagers on their smart-phones, software is now called an app and is made by someone with a laptop sitting at their kitchen table, and a twenty-two-year-old Tasmanian RMIT fashion student now designs clothes that are admired all around the world. This is no longer your grandmother’s world and the portal we are all about to walk through into the new world will also have spiritual implications as well.
There was a time when Jesus was chided by authorities for not washing hands! These authorities weren’t concerned about hygiene or virus control, they were concerned about spiritual purity. What Jesus said in response to them has powerful relevance for how some people feel about the spiritual implications surrounding the current corona-virus, the covid-vaccines, and how authorities are enacting lockdowns and travel restrictions to deal with it.
Both Kim and I have both been doubly vaccinated. We willingly check-in by QR code everywhere we go. We comply with all State and National Governments’ travel restrictions. We do all of this for the sake of our conscience as we strive to love God and to love others. I know that there are believers whom we love who disagree with us. But I also know that there are far more believers who just confused by the whole issue and they too are striving to love God and to love others. For those have concerns about the health implications of the covid vaccines, we strongly recommend that they seek medical advice. But if this is not your primary concern, if the spiritual implications are, then I hope that I have given you some theological reasons not to be fooled by those who assert that all those who are vaccinated will be receiving the mark of the beast, and by so doing will have their salvation revoked.
The Covid pandemic and its effect upon Churches has caused many church leaders and their teams to reevaluate what it means to be the Church. This leads into some really healthy questions that challenge what many had previously unquestionably accepted as “Church”. What ‘should’ a church do when it meets together for its weekly gathering (especially if it can’t actually ‘gather’)? How should the leaders and members of a church contribute to the issues confronting society and culture? Or should the Church be disengaged from ‘the world’ and treat its Christianity as purely ‘private’ matter between the worshiper and God? What do the ministries within a Church within a church — especially that of an evangelist — look like it the Church can not actually meet due to ongoing Covid lockdowns? Perhaps several of these questions might never have even been asked if it wasn’t for Covid. But one thing is for sure, the answer to these questions can be found within Scripture and the lessons from Church history and require that we prayerfully seek the Spirit’s guidance as we apply the best answers. Perhaps it will be then that we can build some fresh momentum and reach the current and next generation for Christ.
If COVID has taught us anything, its taught us just how much we need each other and probably (for many of us) how much we didn’t know it! When we’re born we are utterly dependent. As we grow up we increasingly become independent. When we become an adult we learn to get along with others and become interdependent. But adults also experience seasons where it is necessary to be temporarily dependent upon others. These are times when we need the help and care of others. Ironically though, its often the people who are called upon to help and care for others that are the least likely to accept help and care themselves…