“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness.” (Matthew 23:23)
Where in history has it ever gone well for a society to have Government sanctioned and enforced discrimination and segregation – apartheid in South Africa, segregation in America, Jews in Nazi Germany?
“Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26)
You who with honeyed words and couched in tones of highest respectability rationalise to get the church to do what ought not to be done. After all, “it’s only temporary” – a statement with an appalling track record given the first lockdown to flatten the curve and Melbourne, at least, facing the world’s longest lockdown.
While Australia is one of the few countries in the world to ban unvaccinated from public worship (along with Brazil, Nigeria, and Israel), you imply that it will all blow over as it seems to have done in the UK, Sweden, and Denmark — no need to make an uncomfortable and costly stand now… again ignoring that these changes didn’t happen in a vacuum but in the case of the UK following huge public protests and back benchers revolt, and in the case of Sweden from a determined refusal to lockdown or limit liberty too greatly throughout the pandemic. None of which we are seeing here.
We are also missing the spiritual dynamic and God’s blessing which we cannot just turn on and off at a whim. He is not to be trifled with. Indeed, if we once normalise an unbiblical divide like this in church, we are searing the consciences of our members and setting ourselves up for long-term segregation whether mandated or not because we have NOT clearly said, “It is wrong.”
“They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14)
Meanwhile, their true heart is shown again in The Pastor’s Heart, where the discussion is that even if it wasn’t mandatory, segregated services could be a good idea. Another chimes in on excluding ‘them’ from ministry – so people feel safe coming of course.
Once again, the church here is following the world or the latest opinion poll instead of speaking the truth in love. They love to use the immunocompromised to make their argument sound loving — instead of responsibly reminding their congregations and the community that a person who is immunocompromised is at risk whether it is a vaccinated or an unvaccinated person sitting next to them as all can transmit — that excluding the unvaccinated solves very little.
While these pastors are happy to educate people about the need to get vaccinated, it seems they are not so happy to calm people’s exaggerated fears.
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.” (Luke 11:43)
You who claim to have the ear of the Government – who assure us that we must not stand against injustice publicly through the Ezekiel Declaration – but leave it to them working behind the scenes in much more ‘respectful’ ways. And what have they achieved behind the scenes in real terms?
The faithful Archbishop Kanishka Raffel who originally gave this clarion gospel call:
Jesus is Lord of all, and his gospel is a gospel for all. A ‘No Entry’ sign at the door of the church is wholly inconsistent with the gospel preached inside. Neither race, gender, ethnicity, age, nor economic or educational status – or vaccination status – are to operate as divisions within the Christian community or barriers to the fellowship we share because of Jesus.
…has now been convinced only a few days later to back down and hollowly echo Government health advice and obedience to Caesar:
I support vaccination because clear medical advice shows you are less likely to get C-19 or have serious complications. While not supporting an indefinite vaccine mandate for entry to churches, we are committed to complying with health orders and ensuring our churches are safe.
What key Christian leaders accuse others of, they do themselves. They are acquiescing in segregation of the church between vaccinated and unvaccinated against clear scriptural teaching on the unity of the body while ironically accusing those who raise concerns about vaccine passports as ‘creating division’.
They attempt to hold the moral high ground by saying they are the ones ‘loving their neighbour’. In actual fact, their words belie them. Instead of speaking out as church leaders against the increasing rhetoric of hate speech towards the unvaccinated by the media and Government, they echo it.
And so we hear pastors on The Pastor’s Heart mention a worldview clash they see between ‘the highly individualist worldview of the anti-vaxxer and the other-person centeredness of the gospel’ as if Christian anti-vaxxers are outside the fold by definition. Apologies to unvaccinated Pastor Peter Leithart amongst others.
No – a thousand times no. Ephesians 2:14-18 couldn’t be clearer.
"For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups [Jew and Gentile] one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit." (Ephesians 2:14-18)
This is the reverse of a two-tier society in which hatred and fear towards the minority are stoked for political purposes, for politicians will never let go of a perfect scapegoat on which to blame every outbreak, every overloaded hospital from years of underfunding and a growing list of other problems – IF we, the people, do not cry foul.
Where are the ambassadors of Christ to call these leaders to account – Christ who came to the despised – the leper, the Samaritan, and the tax collector?
Martin Niemoller stated his one regret in 1930s Germany was his failure as a minister in the confessing church to stand up for Jews in the community but only for those in the church. Now, we are failing to stand even for the discriminated-against minority in our churches. God help us.