For most of us, by now the Christmas spirit is fading and the realities of 2021 have set in. The changing of the calendar has brought hope to some but a sober realization to others that we are still faced with many of the same problems that captured our attention for much of last year. By now, the fresh start that we had looked forward to may not seem so fresh.
And on top of that, we are faced with a monumental decision.
A decision that is proving to be unexpectedly controversial.
A decision that could have life or death consequences.
A decision that I have never been taught to make wisely in school or in church.
A decision that I do not see directly addressed in my Bible.
The decision of whether or not to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
To be honest, I have struggled with the answer to that question. I have listened to good people argue vehemently on both sides. There is sharp disagreement even in my own family.
But none of that really matters. It is a decision that I must make for myself. Do I, or don’t I?
Before we go any further, if you are looking for me to make a convincing case one way or the other, I am not qualified to do that. If you are looking for an argument, I’ll try not to give you one.
I am not here to convince you of anything about the vaccine. I am here to share with you some points that I used to make my decision.
Some points that I think are helpful in making any decision:
1. WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?
Remember WWJD? Before you roll your eyes, I know this is not very original. In fact, back twenty years or so ago, it became pretty much a pop culture phenomenon. People everywhere were wearing the bracelets and T-shirts. It probably got overused to the point of losing all impact.
Still it raises a logical and important question: What would our decisions look like if we made them according to the principle of doing what Jesus would do?
I’m betting our batting average on good decisions would improve.
So if Jesus were walking the earth at this particular moment in history under these particular circumstances, would Jesus take this particular vaccine?
Maybe it’s a silly question. After all, Jesus would have absolutely no need to take a vaccine.
But Jesus had absolutely no need to get baptized either, and He made the decision to do that.
It seems to me that everything Jesus did was out of love for humanity. His very existence was the result of God’s love for humanity. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.
So I think that Jesus’ love for humanity would factor into every decision and every action that he would take. Even a decision on a vaccination.
It seems appropriate to me that should influence my decisions also.
2. WHAT IS THE WISE THING FOR ME TO DO?
This is the question at the heart of the vaccine debate and rightly so.
God expects us to use wisdom and good judgement in every decision we make and everything we do. Large portions of the Bible instruct us to pursue wisdom.
God gives us one life on this earth, and we have an obligation to steward that life as wisely as we possibly can. We are right to question the risks involved with any decision. We have an absolute responsibility to be concerned about our own personal safety.
But it seems to me that right now, the vaccine issue has become embroiled in politics, paranoia, and emotion instead of prayerful and rational consideration.
If you have friends and acquaintances who have suffered greatly or died due to this virus, you are likely in support of this vaccine. If you have been fortunate enough to not have been touched by it, you may see it differently. Both viewpoints are logical based on your personal experience.
In his book The Best Question Ever, Pastor Andy Stanley poses this question: “What is the wise thing for me to do in light of my past experience, my present circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams?”
The truth is that our collective past experience with this virus has been brutal. Our present collective circumstance is not good. And our collective hopes and dreams of returning to some sense of normalcy seem to me at the moment to hinge on this vaccine.
As with anything there are risks, but based on where we are at the moment, what is the wise thing for me to do?
3. WHAT DOES LOVE DICTATE THAT I DO?
Jesus was a master at simplification. He boiled the essence of thousands of words down to two principles: Love God and love others.
Every action He ever took, every word that He ever spoke, every attitude that He ever exhibited modeled these two principles. Every instruction that Jesus ever gave or lesson he ever taught was based on these two necessities.
A few years ago, I was introduced to the concept of making “What does love dictate that I do?” a central part of my decision-making process.
The shift to that line of thinking has not been easy for me. I have a long way to go to make it my automatic response.
But I do believe that it is precisely the question that should dictate my words, decisions, actions, and attitudes . . .
Even my decision on this vaccination.
MY VACCINATION DECISION
By now you have probably guessed that I have made the decision to take the vaccine when it is available to me.
I am not suggesting that is the right decision for you, but it is for me.
I understand that there are risks, but at this point I see the risk posed by COVID-19 as far greater than the risk of the vaccine.
For me, the decision also goes far beyond the impact on just me. My love for my family, my church, my community, and my nation dictate this decision.
I have tried to apply the three above questions here as I try to do for every major decision.
But the key to me is not only to ask these three questions of myself but also to earnestly ask them before God in prayer. When I seek his guidance for the right answers, I have peace in my decisions. I can then fully relax and trust God with the outcome.
It is my hope that you will also find the peace that comes with trusting God for guidance in all of life’s decisions.
Even when they involve a controversial vaccination.