There has been a spate of so-called “churches” in recent weeks mandating vaccinations and face masks in order to attend their services and worship corporately. We’ve covered a number of them at Reformation Charlotte. Some pastors have even gone as far as to compare the “vaccine-hesitant” to the Pharisees claiming that they don’t know what they’re objecting to.
The entire phenomenon is absurd.
But few have gone as far as to actually say–out loud–that it’s not possible to follow Jesus without getting a vaccine and wearing a face mask.
Yet, this is exactly what Rev. Nathan A. Russell, the senior pastor of Washington Avenue Christian Church in Elyria, Ohio–who, of course, announces his “preferred pronouns” at the beginning of his sermon–told his congregation on Sunday.
“For anyone who wants to save their life,” Jesus says, “they’ll lose it. And anyone who loses their life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel will save it.” If this episode were to happen today, September the 12th, 2021, here’s how I think it would go: “If anyone wants to become my follower, then get your vaccination and find a mask and wear it, over your nose and your mouth, and follow me.”
But as we’ve seen in our national discourse, people would come up to Jesus and rebuke him with a conversation about rights. Individual rights. What do we think Jesus would say in response to those trying to teach him a lesson about rights? When he said, “Get behind me, Satan.
Now, if you go home and you call your friends who are unvaccinated and say that you heard in church earlier today that they are saying, uh-uh, don’t you dare try it. It won’t go well for you or them. You may be crucified.
I want to be clear that I’m not calling anyone the devil in this sermon. However, when the ideas of individualism and isolationism come at the expense of accountability and communal responsibility, we know that people are putting their minds not on divine things but human things.
Such desires are antagonistic and adversarial to the purposes of God at work in the world. And those antithetical attributes, like names, they have power, too. They’re contagious. They’re infectious. They kill, steal, and destroy.
A vaccine and a mask are minimal requisites for anyone who would wish to follow Jesus. And if that’s difficult to swallow, well, let me tell you what Jesus actually said, what Jesus requires of people who follow him. It’s far more consequential and costly to oneself than a vaccine or a mask will ever be.
“For anyone who wants to save their life will lose it, and anyone who loses their life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel will save it. For what will it profit someone to gain the whole wide world and forfeit their life?”
These wicked men are not ministers of God’s Word, they are prophets of Ba’al who are leading people away from the saving grace of Jesus Christ and forcing them to place their faith in the deeds and traditions of men.