By Chet Gladkowski
There is lots of talk and opinions being bandied around the virtual water cooler, i.e., Zoom calls, social media, and the internet, about vaccines. While many have taken advantage of the COVID-19 vaccine, one in four Americans said they would refuse a coronavirus vaccine outright if offered. Another 5% are “undecided” about whether they would get the shot. In another survey, about 29% of healthcare workers reported at least one concern with the COVID-19 vaccine. And local results can vary greatly: only 27% of people in Baker County, FL are vaccinated.
No matter your thoughts, research, or opinions about COVID-19 and the various treatments, there is one thing that we can agree on when it comes to your church and small groups. There are at least three potential viral infections that we not only need to be on the lookout for, but to aggressively fight against and treat.
Virus 1: Gossip – Some seem to think that gossip is a minor, if not benign, virus. While they think it’s not a biggie, it’s listed with some pretty serious stuff in Romans 1 including murder and God-haters. It separates close friends.
Treatment – Guarding our tongues, keeping ourselves from calamity. If Jesus died for us while we were still sinners, separated from God, then shouldn’t we also be willing to sacrifice our opinions?
Virus 2: Pride – Some are infected with the virus of hubris where they have all the right answers, have the inside scoop, they think of themselves more highly than they ought to.”
Treatment – The treatment is to “think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” We are to purposefully “walk by the Spirit, and not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Reflect on your words, thoughts, actions, and attitudes, evaluating them in comparison to God’s love and acceptance for us in Jesus which is based on his sacrifice and death for us on the cross, “putting to death their hostility.”
Virus 3: Splintering – we break off into smaller and smaller groups, following individual leaders or groups, isolating ourselves from the body of Christ based on who we follow.
Treatment – We treat ourselves and each other when we realize the reality of being “co-workers in God’s service.” This does not mean that there is no discernment, but there is room to “accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.”
Let the truth of these treatments sink deep into our hearts for a moment. God was willing to personally pay the price for us, not just while we were sinners, but while we were his enemies. While we were personally and actively on opposite sides of the moral universe, Jesus crossed over to redeem, receive and renew us.
If He was willing to do that for us, can’t we follow His lead and exhibit those same godly attributes within our churches and Small Groups?
1 NPR/Marist poll, 2 University of Michigan, 3 News4Jax, June 12, 2021, 4 Proverbs 16:28, 5 Proverbs 21:23, 6 Romans 5:8, 7 Romans 12:3a, 8 Romans 12:3b, 9 Galatians 5:16, 10 Ephesians 2:16, 11 1 Corinthians 1:12, 12 1 Corinthians 3:9, 13 Romans 14:1, 14 Romans 5:10