Let’s Mandate Grace!

Hello FBK family.… As you might suspect, more frequently than not, we are asked by a variety of people for our opinion on and around the many COVID-19 related issues we are all experiencing.  From mask-wearing to vaccinations and government mandates, it is increasingly difficult to see an end to this current season of change. Since in these first weeks of our serving with you we’d like to continue the process of ‘getting to know each other’, We thought it might be valuable to share with you some of the following thoughts we have around this area.

Important Note

It is important for you to recognize that the following opinions are those of Pastor Marlee and Pastor Dave, and do not necessarily reflect the views of our church and/or our denomination.

We should start with an important confession: these issues do not really captivate us as much as they seem to interest many of the people who ask for our opinion or who try to draw us into conversation related to these areas. Let us explain…

Absolutely, we believe these are important topics, but the fact of the matter is that we are not experts in these areas and feel the best approach for our life journey is to let the experts be the experts.  Does that mean we don’t educate and research these different areas? No, we certainly do, but it does mean that we don’t personally put an extended amount of time into focusing on these areas even though we recognize their value in our broader community context. This is generally where we land on most discussions around COVID-19 and the myriad of other topics surrounding the virus. Having said that, we recognize that for some of you, this is not the approach you choose to take…AND THAT’S OK!!

And so, here’s the second confession for you to realize about us – we are personally ‘pro vaccine’ AND ‘pro listening’. So, what exactly does that mean? It means that when presented with evidence and the specific situations of our family situation, we believe it makes the most sense for our family to be vaccinated. Additionally, as citizens of Canada, The Province of Ontario and the Municipality of Kingsville, we feel it is paramount that we understand and uphold the ‘law of the land’, in this area – and so we do.

God’s word encourages us to:

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”  

— Romans 13:1

Is blindly following our government(s) what is being implied from God’s word here or from Marlee and I? No. We also know that God’s word NEVER contradicts itself and so in some seasons there have been and will be times in the future where we as Jesus followers may need to discern through choices or direction we are being asked to undertake. That discernment may lead to some of us choosing not to follow the “law of the land”, however for us that time is not now.

The Apostle Peter himself notes:

“We must obey God rather than human beings!”  

— Acts 5:29

And as such, we must always be ready to respond accordingly but we must also be equally ready to do the necessary work of interpreting and discerning all of God’s word in areas such as this.

The really troublesome part of this discussion for so many of us seems to be that many of the voices of government and science do not necessarily agree, and that can be very confusing.  In these instances, we turn to 2 areas of consistency and value for us – God’s Word and Prayer in the Holy Spirit.

God’s Word/Scripture

Philippians 2:5-7 says:

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

We always want to consider the effect of our own actions on those around us and we will always encourage you to do the same. We consider that as doctors look at the health of us as individuals, public health experts look at the health of our communities. In any community there are those particularly vulnerable to a disease, or who are medically unable or too young to be safely vaccinated. In our life journey we believe that we can help to serve our community, and our own family, by being vaccinated.

We also respect that this area, and many others, frankly, are evolving both scientifically and culturally.  Being as this is the case; we are also continually listening. We are listening to the experts and to our neighbours – some of whom do not view the science and its impact on their own lives the same as we do. Again, THAT’S OK.

Hebrew 10:24-25 has some valuable counsel for us in this regard:

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

We believe that these are wise words not just for the Church and Jesus followers, but for our broader community as well.  We would always encourage helpful dialogue and opportunities to listen to each other as a key way of not giving up and a practical method of spurring each other on. Sometimes because of the emotions involved and the intensely personal experiences COVID-19 has bought into our lives, it might also be wise to consider some self-governing rules of engagement, if you will.

James 1:19

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

Prov. 19:20

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”

The willingness and capacity to listen is such an important component of this discussion, and is in most every facet of our lives. We seek out and encourage each of you to take a posture of listening and grace in these discussions.

Praying in The Spirit

For us, our starting point for all areas of our life journey is simple:

Each time we engage another child of God we want our actions and words to be directed by the Holy Spirit, Who lives inside of us. Our desire is that others see genuine compassion, interest, a posture of listening and most importantly self-control, Christ likeness.

How we approach these desired outcomes are always predicated through a time of prayer.  We are not strong enough as individuals to succeed in these areas on our own, so through prayer in the Holy Spirit we seek direction and counsel to be Christlike in these interactions.

John 14:26

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

James 1:5-6

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

Praying specifically for these areas of our lives and then testing what we hear with God’s word should always be the primary methods we use to approach areas of life that seem to clash with each other and threaten the unity we are called to.

Which leads us to what we think should be the one thing we are all keeping in mind during this tumultuous time:

Our rights as Canadian citizens should never take a position of importance that is greater than our calling as children of The Most High God!

The only thing that should matter to us is our lived experience as Jesus followers and the advancing of His Kingdom. The real issue for all of us then is how we each feel we are called to do just that. Over the next two weeks our message series “FRESH START” will focus on two areas of instruction that Jesus gives us to advance The Kingdom and we believe, has much to say about this discussion as well. We look forward to navigating this with you and encourage you to engage us with any feedback, questions or discussion you would like to share.

Blessings as you journey through this. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Pastor Marlee and Pastor Dave.