The Gospel of Covid
For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11-12
Growing up, I knew that all true Christians were Republicans. My parents never taught me this, but I simply knew that Democrats didn’t follow God. Later, when I realized that there were Christian Democrats who felt the same about greedy Republicans, my mind was blown. Without realizing it, I’d done something terribly unfair and destructive – I’d equated a political party with the gospel of Christ.
I see this now with Covid-19 and I’ve even come dangerously close to doing it myself. To be clear, my faith should affect every decision I make and so, it’s appropriate that my view of Covid-19 be affected by my religious convictions. It’s fitting then, if I say something like this, “Because God tells me to love my neighbors, I believe vaccination is the right choice.” (Full disclosure – I do believe that science supports Covid-19 vaccination efforts).
I know good Christians though, whose convictions have led them to the opposite conclusion. We disagree and we disagree passionately. In this context, it’s easy for me to say something like this, “A true Christian would get the vaccine.” In doing so, I’ve gone beyond allowing my faith to shape my opinions. Now, I’ve equated my opinions on Covid-19 with the gospel of Christ.
I’ve seen Christians on both sides do this. “Faith, not fear. A real Christian wouldn’t need to wear a mask or get a vaccine.” By invoking the gospel, one side attacks the other’s faith, while laying claim to the ultimate authority – God himself. “You’re not on God’s side.”
We do this with Covid-19, and we do it with politics. “A real Christian would vote for_____.” In doing so, we add to the gospel of Christ, doing the exact thing that Paul railed against in his letter to the Galatians. Personally, I don’t want to be guilty of this. My cause is Christ and I desire that others know him. I can have passionate opinions about Covid-19 and vaccination efforts, but for my part, I’m not going to lose friends over this.
Eventually, this issue will fade. Vaccination isn’t my life cause. My life purpose isn’t equated with some political party but rather in knowing God, being transformed by him, and sharing his love with those around me. My gospel is that Christ sacrificed himself to save me from myself. If you want to know that freedom too, I’d love to share it with you. That’s the gospel.