West Linn pastor: Vaccine is God-given common grace
One of the members of the small group mentioned he was scheduled to get his vaccine.
Another blurted out, "Uh oh, they're going to take your brain." This unexpected outburst was the voicing of fear from one who, despite compromised health, had previously said he was not going to get vaccinated.
We finished. I needed to talk to him about the wild suggestion. "Where did you hear that stuff?"
"I heard it on the news. Well, on the internet."
As a pastor who cares deeply for his health and growth in wisdom, I shared that, on the internet, people may care more about him being fearful than having truth. I pointed him toward common grace.
The vaccine is common grace given to us by God and that is a reason to receive it.
Common grace is every expression of the goodness of God we humans enjoy. It means there are good things in the world that are available to everyone which they do not deserve. God has graciously given us great advantages beyond the saving grace of Jesus' work on the cross.
God gave ingenuity and wisdom to humans to sequence the structure of the coronavirus and develop a vaccine that would literally teach our cells how to create the antibodies necessary to fight against the coronavirus when it intrudes our bodies.
Those with worn out, aged and compromised immune systems can be given this key without having to develop the antibodies on their own. This is grace. This is an undeserved, beautiful gift.
We experience the bent nature of nature every day, Christian scripture says that all creation is groaning. We have all experienced that groaning in particularly acute ways over the last year. And yet, God has been gracious. I am amazed that we have tools to combat such a natural evil like coronavirus. God has given us something to defend against the natural ramifications of the curse first unleashed in the garden so long ago.
Every day, since the beginning in early March 2020, I have prayed, alongside my family, that God would quell the virus. That he would graciously end its spread by abrupt stoppage or by giving his image bearers the tools to render it ineffective.
Today, I scheduled my first vaccine. I am grateful to receive the vaccine as a clear bit of grace and means to love my neighbors. This past year I have followed health guidelines to love them. Now, with this jab, God has given me means to love them in far more effective and final ways. Praise be to God!
I shared the above with the heart of a pastor, with a desire to see him live in this world with an understanding of its brokenness but also the redemptive, restoring character of his King who will one day make all things new.
A week later I received a text from him. "I am scheduled for a vaccine next week."
My reply, "Wonderful."
It is wonderful when one recognizes common grace, when a fellow image bearer accepts an unexpected gift. God's character is one of graciousness and there is evidence of this even in the middle of a pandemic.
This has been a hard year, a taxing year, but by God's common grace it will be a memory.
Aeric Estep is a pastor at New Life Church in West Linn and a co-host of the City on a Hill podcast.
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