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  • Writer's picturejaredrrolston

The Pandemic Game Tape And The Gospel

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

What to do with the game tape?

Whether we want to look back on it or not, we captured our reaction to the pandemic in detail as it happened. So team, what should we do with the game tape?


Are we still a team?

For the sake of moving forward together, we must look back on the three years of fumbles, own goals, and dirty tackles and learn from them all. If we want to be a *good* team, apologies must be offered, forgiveness must be returned, and new tactics must be adopted.

It will be uncomfortable for some, but if you look over this little highlight reel, everyone can see that the experts confidently made many unsupportable claims that turned out to be false. They exaggerated how unsafe we all were, the effectiveness of the vaccine, and the dangers of the unvaccinated population. Pretty much everyone trusted these claims without question.

Then the same misled majority vilified those who were slow to swallow all they were being fed.

As I said, we've got it all on tape, and as it turns out, it was right to doubt them.

The experts were arrogant. The masses were afraid. And this fear led us to set aside the use of personal discernment, receiving whatever the gospel of the government was on any given day. Even as we saw their means of salvation change over and over again, our belief in their ability to save could not be shaken. We were ready for the government to be our one source of truth even before they claimed that position of deity for themselves.

Christians And Their Team Participation

One thing that can also be seen on the game tape (if you're looking for it) is that a disproportionate percentage of those who *eventually* questioned the narrative was from the Christian community. It is undeniable that Destiny Church led the New Zealand resistance against government overreach. Because of this, liberal Christians were once again embarrassed to be part of the bride, and the government-funded media increased their shame by constantly publishing stories about Christians letting the team down. They were the grubby ones of society that couldn't help but sing their germs all over each other.

While we can acknowledge that Christians were divided in their response to the pandemic, I think it is worth asking why so many Christians questioned the narrative and tactics of their country's government.

One explanation is that Christians already understand themselves to be an informed minority, knowing that the vast majority of people are wilfully suppressing the truth about God and are under the sway of the devil (Romans 1:18-19; Ephesians 2:1-3). A global deception or conspiracy against the truth, fit well within the realm of possibility, and was, therefore, easier to accept.

While that explanation has some plausibility, I think these two verses have greater explanatory power.

"The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion." (Proverbs 28:1)
"[Jesus delivers] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery." (Hebrews 2:15)

The Fearful Against the Faithful

The fear campaign didn't work as well on the Christian minority because we have been taught by our Lord what we should fear and what we should not. We are not to fear that which can "...kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather [we are to] fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28b) Christians know that we ought not to fear death, because the sting of death was removed through the resurrection of Christ and our union with him. (More on that later.)

This doesn't mean we don't take reasonable measures to protect ourselves from viruses. We do. But we are called to *live* fruitful and productive *lives.* If you're sick, this is made harder - but if you are locked down, it is made impossible. So we don't go mental when there are bugs around because we are called to be both fruitful and fearless.

The world does not have this hope. Fruitfulness can be set aside when they're afraid. They are still under the lifelong slavery of the fear of death, so they will go to inordinate and even irrational lengths to escape it. They will destroy their own supply chains, inflate their own currencies with printed money, and indebt their own children, all to escape a spicy cough.

And they'd do it all again for the next variant if given the chance.

Avoiding Team Tyranny

So, what's the answer? I believe there are many, but if I've identified the main problem correctly, what we need most is freedom from the fear of death. Fear of death can lead you to do nasty things. We saw it cause friends to impose their will on other friends via the government's sword— even fearful Christians. Personally, I have been uninvited from weddings and had friends barred from my previous church due to arbitrary border restrictions. Being unvaccinated, I and my family were ostracised and shunned from many places in society. We also had many friends lose jobs over the mandates.

How ridiculous this all looks now.

Fear is a close friend of tyranny. No constitution will hold back a fearful population from annihilating your God-given freedoms. Our problem during Covid was not the strength of our Bill of Rights. Our problem was that we were too afraid to abide by it.

Many of today's philosophers and self-help gurus claim they can remove fear. But few attempt to explain the universal bondage that our fear of death has over us. If there is no afterlife, the fear of death is irrational. Are we all irrational when it comes to this one aspect of our thinking, or is there really a cause for concern?

God tells us that there is.

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” (1 Corinthians 15:56)

The Connection Between Fear And Guilt

The reason death has such a hold over us is our personal guilt. Our guilty consciences tell us that the end of life will not go well for us— and our nation has a lot of guilty consciences.

No clever new way of thinking, no justifying of sin, no emphasising of good behaviour can rid a person of the knowledge of their sin and guilt.

The only way to cleanse a conscience is to know that everything has been made right— that guilt no longer clings to you. And the only way for this to be a reality is to know that justice has been fulfilled: that is, the demands of the law have been settled.

If you know that the requirements of the law have been satisfied somehow, you will be free from the fear of sin and death.

This is the root of the Christian's freedom. Our hope in life and death.

"For our sake, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Jesus satisfied the demands of the law on our behalf. By placing our faith in him for this, we live without our guilt clinging to us. No punishment is required at our death, because he took our punishment upon himself. He died on our behalf, so now death has truly lost its sting. There is no reason to fear it. And he was raised for our justification, so we have a hope to look forward to.

"O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?...But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:55,57)
"'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved." - Amazing Grace

Accounting For Christian Fear

If Christianity produces this kind of fearlessness, then how do we account for those Christians who fell for the narrative wholesale and approved of the fear-induced policies of the government?

First, it must be said that some natural fear (one that does not displace one's trust in God) was justified at the beginning. There was little reason for your average hard-working New Zealander to believe the media was exaggerating the lethality of the disease. But this fear robbed many of their ability to discern the truth, and led them to seek safety over obedience.

This is the kind of fear that Christians should not have. One that would hold back a virus at all costs, even deny a man his rights to move freely and provide for his family.

That is a faithless fear.

Now, we know that not all who name the name of Christ are Christians. Some churchgoers who fell into fear are not followers of Christ. They love what the cross of Christ can give them, but they do not want the shame that comes with following the crucified one. Many feared losing the acceptance of the culture more than they did losing the acceptance of God. so they followed the accepted narrative. Like good pagans, they lived by fear. That looked like not letting people into their churches without masks. It looked like firing their unvaccinated employees.

Their fearfulness— their lack of works— exposed the deadness of their faith. Covid showed that they are the seed sown among thorns, that gets choked out by the cares of the world (Matthew 13:22).

Others are like Peter who, at the questioning of a servant girl, became fearful. He was driven by that fear until the third cock-crow snapped him out of it. It is possible for true Christians to fall into sinful fear as he did, and return once they've seen the error of their ways. If these Christians admit they allowed themselves to be deceived, and they publicly repent for the harm their fears produced, the Lord will accept them back.

But without this, they are in serious danger. It was necessary for Peter to eventually repent of the sin his fear produced, and he did.

The Blessing of Being Confronted

As we watch over the game tape, things look pretty ugly, but I think there is a blessing in being confronted by our faults in this way. Seeing the shameful acts of the last few years will improve us if our shame drives us to repentance.

We need to have a conversation about the authority of our Bill of Rights. We need to get back to the foundational principles of good government and understand where our God-given rights come from. Good government matters. But unless we root out our rebellion against the one true God we will remain guilty and fearful. The next national emergency will come and we will find our laws have less authority than a clever government plan to prolong life.

Our greatest need, individually and as a nation, is to turn to Jesus Christ, the prince of peace and Lord of all. The gospel of the government will change with the times, but the good news of the word of God will remain as it has always been— fixed and unshakable. May New Zealand place its faith in the only sure foundation once again.

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