Hi everyone. Rob here.
In most western countries there is a debate going on about what it means to be free. In Aotearoa/New Zealand that debate has been been reignited by the most recent Covid-19 restrictions and the promise from the government that it will only be those with vaccine certificates that will be able to access greater freedoms in the future. In other words, if you choose not to be vaccinated you are choosing a restricted life. In exercising your freedom to reject vaccination you will lose your freedom to play a full part in our ongoing community life. Freedom and limits aren’t enemies. They are partners but they need to understand each others role.
The Bible has a lot to say about freedom. Right from the start in Genesis we read a story that sees Adam and Eve be given the run of a beautiful garden, with one limitation – do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The invitation was to accept the limitation and enjoy a life of freedom and joy. They couldn’t do it. The serpent played on the idea that the limitation was a barrier to freedom rather than a pathway. As the story unfolds we see that by rejecting the limitation Adam and Eve lost the ability to live a truly free life. They were no longer “naked and without shame.”
The parallel with vaccines is clear. If you reject the vaccine your life will be less free. If you accept it then it acts as a pathway to freedom. The more people that accept it the greater collective freedom there will be and the greater sense of community also. Some people will see that as the Government taking away their freedoms. But actually the reverse if true. In an unvaccinated world, with Covid-19 widespread, then restrictions are the norm. If you choose to remain unvaccinated then that is the life you choose. Get vaccinated then you get gifted freedoms that don’t exist in an unvaccinated world. You also receive the gift of knowing that you have helped to protect the vulnerable. I can’t think of anything more Biblical than that.
As Christians we live in the paradox of freedom all the time. Our pathway to freedom begins with surrender and is exercised by service. We start at the cross where Jesus surrendered all his rights as Son of God and Son of Man and submitted to the Roman authorities and their modus operandi of humiliating violence. He surrendered those rights because dying in humiliation was the greatest act of service that he could give to us. By putting sin, shame and ego to death on that cross he made a pathway for us to be free from sin’s curse and the lies of shame and ego. Freedom is when we are longer slaves to sin and self. Paul puts it like this in Galatians 5:13
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
Getting vaccinated is an act of love as well as a pathway to freedom. We are always being asked to use our freedom in Christ by acting in love towards our fellow human beings. We are called to be free but freedom serves, freedom gives, freedom loves in the name of Jesus Christ for the sake of his children and his kingdom. And freedom always begins with surrender. In the words of U2,
If you want to kiss the sky, you better learn how to kneel – Mysterious Ways
Grace and peace everyone.
Thanks Rob. It’s been super helpful to have these blogs giving an alternative to believing that the Government is working to destroy us, take away our freedoms and lose livelihoods. I particularly liked the reference to Adam and Eve and the restrictions God gave them in the garden of Eden and how they struggled to be disciplined and accepting of those. You draw our attention to how those restrictions worked for their freedom and what was lost when they disobeyed. Thank you for putting reasonable and helpful explanations to another way of viewing the vaccination mandates that is not often heard.