In the Spotlight
By Richard Allen – November 15, 2021
There is an old Christian phrase that I first heard many years ago from a dear brother and mentor named Cliff. It goes something like this:
“To dwell above with Saints above, oh that will be my glory.
But to live below with Saints I know, we’ll that’s a different story!”
At one and the same time, that one phrase seems to capture our future expectation for harmony with brothers and sisters in Christ, and acknowledges that while we’re still living in the flesh this harmony will not ever be a reality! There is no issue where this disconnect is more apparent that in our responses to the Wuhan-Covid 19 Virus. I’m not talking about just having different opinions on the virus, or the political theatre that was created to quarantine, treat, and prevent the spread. What I am saying is that “real reputable doctors” and scientists have weighed in on the Wuhan-Covid Virus, and while there are still questions to be answered, THIS VIRUS ACTS LIKE OTHER PREVIOUS COVID VIRUSES! And without being ad nauseum with factoids, let me give you a layman’s guide of things we know, and falsehoods the so-called “pseudo-experts” have been spreading for almost two years:
• FEAR of Wuhan-Covid-19 has been hyped to a level unseen in previous viruses in the modern age!
• It’s clear to anyone who can understand the “signs of the times” that most of the response is political manipulation.
• Regardless of who created this virus (most likely by the very scientists who are now making Trillions of dollars diagnosing,
treating, hospitalizing and vaccinating us), Wuhan-Covid-19 is highly contagious!
• This virus behaves just like other Covid viruses, and like other viral life-forms it has and will mutate/ It will build heard immunity in
some of its hosts, not to kill them all off – so the virus can also survive. And like all viruses, some will not survive.
• Regardless of the hype, every person on this planet who comes into contact with Wuhan-Covid-19 will either: Build Immunity and
live, or Die from the virus or a co-morbidity (other health condition) that they have.
• People with co-morbidity illnesses should all wear N95 Masks and limit their exposure to ALL VIRUSES, INCLUDING THE FLU!
• Despite the hype from Government, Media and the Medical-Industrial-Complex (all with massive political & monetary interests in
the virus), the 5 Vaccines that were rushed to market aren’t successful in any long-term prevention of being infected (N.E.J.M.).
• The Survival rate is only marginally greater for those vaccinated than those relying on their own immune system.
• The WHO, CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci from NIH have been blatantly dishonest, talking out of both sides of their mouths,
colluding with the virus’ creators and lying on a level that would have gotten any other public official fired!
• Because the Vaccine’s were rushed into production/approval, the normal clinical studies and cautions were thrown out the
window. As a result, the VAERS – Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, has seen a drastic spike in events.
• There have been 15,000 deaths from the Wuhan-Covid-19 Vaccines, more than all other vaccines in history combined!
• The paper masks that people wear have no impact on the spread because they are not N95 Masks, they are a “placebo” meant to give the ignorant masses some level of comfort, and to control them!
So you’re probably saying, if all of this is known, why are so many people still afraid? That is really an important question to answer, but one which I won’t answer in this blog. No, what I’d rather address are the responses of Christians on either side of this issue. I think you’ll be amazed at what the Bible, has a lot to say about our responses and behavior towards each other on a very similar issue. And to my amazement, the scriptures don’t come down on my side of the debate, in fact – THEY DON’T COME DOWN ON ANY SIDE! Just so you know, I’m not using a slight of hand with the biblical text, but I do want to look at a similar debate that happened in the first century Church in the city of Rome. A Church to which Paul the Apostle wrote a lengthy letter (Epistle), to teach them (and us) as Christians how we might ease the tensions between two factions, and learn to love each other as Christ loved us!
To provide better clarity, let me explain that we all know that there are two camps in the Church of Jesus Christ here in America regarding the whole Wuhan-Covid-19 virus. Camp #1: Those who are well informed regarding the above factoids, and are wary of being stampeded, by power & money-hungry politicians, media and medical corporations. And Camp #2: Those who are mostly frightened, yet think they know exactly what is going on, and can’t believe everyone else around them are not shaking in their boots with them. They believe the hype and accept the ever-changing Wuhan-Covid mandates and rules – almost like settled Law. And like their brothers in Camp #1, they are convinced that they are informed because Government Authorities, the Media, and virtually the whole Medical Industrial Complex have told them to: “be afraid, very afraid!”
Since I’ve seen a thing or two in my life and firmly believe that I can read the “stiches on the fastball,” let me say that I’m unapologetically in Camp #1! And I’d like to call my Camp #1 group: Well-Informed but Arrogant! And I’d like to call those Camp #2 group: Not-Really-Informed but Legalistic! I say Legalistic, because Camp #2 is firmly convinced that all of the Legal Authorities support their fears and positions on quarantines, masks, vaccines and mandates! These may sound like funny group labels, but as we look at Romans, you’ll understand where I’m coming from.
In the Church of Rome, they had been through several years of turmoil. Paul penned this book at Corinth in approx. 57 AD. The decade before had witnessed the expulsion of Jews by Rome, probably between 49 – 53 AD. As a result, converted Jews who had been forced to leave Rome under the decree, found themselves returning just shortly before Paul wrote his Epistle. As some historians tell us, Jewish believers had been in Church Leadership, and enjoyed great influence in the Roman Church, prior to their expulsion. But after returning in 53 AD, Jewish Believers found that Gentile believers had ascended to positions of church authority in their absence. To make matters worse, Paul’s New Covenant teachings were now the prominent authority among believers, resulting in a deemphasizing of most of the Jewish customs of worship: The Sabbath, Dietary rules, etc. So Paul’s letter was partially written to address the tensions that had crept into the congregation. Paul’s first words in Romans Chapter 14:1-6 are:
“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over his opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”
Right off the bat, Paul identifies those who are “weak in faith” as those who can’t eat the meat offered (i.e. because it’s not kosher), but can eat only vegetables – and in so doing he identifies Jewish believers as those weak in faith. He also implies that there are those who “esteem one day (i.e. the Sabbath) as better than another” and others (Gentiles) “who esteemed all days alike.” It’s clear that those who were “strong in the faith” had more liberty to eat, and to worship on any day. I do think most of us can relate how our religious upbringing becomes a part of our thinking. And just because their Messiah-Jesus “declared all meats clean” (Mark 7:19), doesn’t mean that Jewish believers would feel comfortable eating pork or non- kosher foods. And with the early Church meeting on Sundays (mia-sabaton), that is the day after sabbath, most Gentile believers understood that the only Sabbath rest they had (Heb 4:9-11) was the “rest” that they’d entered into by faith! But their Jewish brethren were still hung up on the traditional Sabbath! What a mess!
Let me humbly say that Paul’s response was NOT what I would have done. I would have stated clearly that some were weak and some strong in the faith. And then I would have given them a lengthy discourse on “all meats being clean” and “all days alike” – giving them a clear understanding of our New Covenant freedom in Christ! And I would have been bluntly honest to those who were Legalistic and Fearful of breaking Jewish Sabbath & Dietary Laws. I’d title my 2 messages: “Your Digestive System Can’t Save You,” and “No One Ever Found Rest Using a Calendar!” But to my shame, that isn’t what Paul said or did. Paul goes in a completely different direction: “Don’t pass judgement or despise your brother” (v10). It appears that Paul is more worried by how they treat each other than about sound doctrine, right? Wrong! Paul elsewhere fiercely rebuked the false doctrine of the “Judaizers” in the book of Galatians. And when the Apostle Peter sinned by falling into an old practice of thinking Gentiles to be unclean, Paul rebuked him to his face (Gal 2:11-14). Paul came down hard on those trying to pervert the faith, but very graciously to those who were weak in that same faith! And lest we somehow think Paul wasn’t sophisticated enough to discern motives and actions, Paul says:
“Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” (Romans 14:5-8)
Reading this, I just wonder how Paul would have handled the Wuhan-Covid-19 Virus in the Church today? While I know that Paul would have rightly understood “Caesar’s (i.e. the State’s) ulterior motives to quarantine and shut Churches down, and to use Fear to control . . . . I think Paul might have said this to the Church in the USA today:
“Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who wears a mask, wears it to honor the Lord out of care and concern for his brother. And the one who doesn’t wear the mask, does so to honor and trust the Lord, and he gives thanks to God that for his natural immunities. And the one who gets the vaccine, does so to honor the Lord and be subject to authority, and the one who doesn’t get vaccinated – does so to honor and trust the Lord. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” (Epistle to the U.S.A. 14:5-8)
Mind you, I’m not agreeing with the Weaker – Legalistic brother who submits to what I believe to be a mandate with no constitutional authority. But I am pleading for charity and gracious love for those who are fearful, and compliant. God has made us all, and given each of us unique strengths & weaknesses. I think Paul would close this blog by saying:
“Let not the one who wears a mask, or gets the vaccine despise the one who abstains from both, and let not the one who doesn’t wear a mask or get the vaccine pass judgment on the other, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? (Epistle to the U.S.A. 14:3-4)
Learning to live together in love is a challenge for all believers. Just because we have a new nature, doesn’t mean we don’t still struggle with the old fallen nature within. To those in Camp #1: Well-Informed but Arrogant, don’t look down on your brother or sisters who have been frightened by media manipulation. And don’t think yourself better, just because you are “really following the science.” And to those in Camp #2: Not-Really Informed but Legalistic, don’t condemn your brother or sister by appealing to secular laws, mandates and ever-changing scientific pronouncements that are all over the map. Both Camps need to graciously forbear one another in love, and in so doing – Fulfill the Law of Christ (Gal 6:2)! I’m convinced that for the present, God’s more concerned about how we treat one another, than who is shown to be right, and who is wrong.