We need more persecuted Christians

Obviously the title above needs explaining, especially when so many Christians are already being persecuted in countries where they have no way of defending themselves and the penalties are severe and utterly unjust. And many of these Christians are so brave, when simply being known for being a Christian or being seen carrying a Bible can mean death, torture, jail time away from family and loss of livelihood. 

So, like Paul asked for the prayers of the church to help him through heavy persecution (2 Corinthians 1:8-11), I imagine our fellow Christians under similar heavy persecution today appreciate our prayers too. 

The reason for the title, therefore, isn’t about Christians already being horribly and unfairly persecuted; it’s about Christians in countries where openly preaching the gospel is still allowed, and preaching it in such a way it gets noticed. And if it isn’t being noticed is that because the gospel isn’t being preached?  

I ask that, because reading through the book of Acts, there was always opposition wherever the true gospel was being preached. Luke, the writer of Acts, records whole cities in an uproar with mobs screaming out for blood, and those preaching the gospel being hauled up before kings, magistrates and all manner of secular and religious authorities. True Christianity, in other words, did not go unnoticed, and clearly the Holy Spirit intended it to be that way, because on so many occasions opposition and persecution caused the gospel message to spread (Acts 8:1 and 4, for instance).

And that made me think of the state of the world today, and the opportunities it has thrown our way to show how radically different the true gospel message is. But are those opportunities passing us by, because we’re so taken up instead with getting back to our church communities and traditions, and keeping our church buildings intact?

For many decades now – in our Western countries – Christians have hardly been persecuted. We can go to church whenever we like, and no-one is stopping us. We can advertise what we’re up to inside our churches on large signs and nobody is ripping them down. We can invite people to join us without fear of arousing opposition. We’ve had it easy, in other words. And the result? Churches closing. Attendance decreasing. Fewer people seeing Christianity as something even worth taking notice of, and Christians blending in with the culture to attract people to their doors, as though Romans 12:2 was never written. 

The pandemic, however, has ignited some little sparks into flame in some churches, where they stood up against government mandates, citing Scripture that clearly got the point across that Jesus is Lord and as Christians we put him and his teachings first in our lives. And guess what? Even when that wasn’t the most tactfully done, it got noticed. And, what’s more, it hit the headlines too, and maybe woke up other Christians from their slumber and they got the courage to do the same. 

I realize there’s a difference between spoiling for a fight and justified resistance, but what a sight to see Christians openly and publicly “preaching in the market place” and gathering a crowd that actually took notice of the message about Jesus, just like the good old days in Acts. 

And those preaching willingly took it on the nose too, when opposition came. They paid the price in money and being blacklisted, or being carted off in handcuffs and thrown in jail, because like the apostles and others in Acts they felt compelled to let the world know Jesus is not only in charge of all human life, he also has the answers to the mess we’re in. 

And I was particularly moved by the response of one person being persecuted: “Bring it on,” he said. No fear, no buckling to intimidation, no resolve lessened, no accommodating the very human desire for physical comfort and safety. And why “Bring it on”? Because that’s the Holy Spirit’s pattern in the book of Acts for spreading the gospel. It’s not Christians holing up in their churches to get their Sunday booster but taking little interest in getting the true gospel preached publicly in their community. Neither is it church becoming little more than a social club, or buckling to cultural pressures to the point of becoming no different to the culture. 

And maybe the pandemic has woken us up to this, that there are some real problems out there that are shattering people’s lives, and these poor people need hope – hope that there really is a Jesus who is Lord of all, and he lives to help those who seek his help (2 Corinthians 1:9-10). They need to hear the gospel, in other words, by the likes of those in the book of Acts who accepted persecution as the way the gospel gets noticed and spreads.

So does that now make sense of the title, “We need more persecuted Christians”? If so, then they are the ones who need our prayers too, for the courage to speak out when opportunity arises.    

Now we know the Garden of Eden was true

I’ve often wondered why we all have to pay for Adam and Eve’s stupidity in the Garden of Eden. It wasn’t our fault what they did, so why should we be penalized for the choices they made?

But along comes the pandemic to help us realize why. It’s because we’re just as stupid as they were. And if that’s taken as an insult, then a quick revisit to what happened in the Garden of Eden Is in order, right?

God offered Adam and Eve two choices: the knowledge of good and evil on the one hand, and “life” on the other. The first choice went the route of experimentation, the second the route of certainty. “Life” meant there’d be nothing humans did that would kill them, which clearly required God’s personal guidance and constant help. But what could be better than being taught and mentored by the one who created them so they never made a mistake that was fatal or even risked injury? This way they were guaranteed absolute safety and they really could “live forever” without risk or danger (Genesis 3:22).    

The route of experimentation, however, was full of hazards, like trying to figure out which mushrooms were “good” and which mushrooms were “evil.” Or in our terms today, which medications are “safe” and which ones are risky. It’s like stepping through a minefield, and pity the people who first ate a poisoned mushroom or volunteered for an experimental vaccine to see if it was safe, because what other way did they have of knowing if it was safe or not, other than experimentation?

There’s a garden in England today that’s dedicated entirely to poisonous plants, some of which are so deadly they have a cage round them. Imagine being the first person, then, to try one. Maybe like Eve they see the plant as “good for food and pleasing to the eye,” but it turns out it has serious adverse effects, including a nasty death. 

No wonder God advised Adam and Eve not to go that route, and especially when it came to making life choices, because one bad step in the minefield and one’s life becomes a nightmare of troubles. It’s like those who get into extreme sports and break all sorts of bones but recover, which makes them think they’re invincible, only to have those injuries cripple them in later life. 

It’s a life of Russian roulette, never knowing if our choices are right for us or wrong, just like taking an experimental drug that offers no proof of long term safety, and no liability for adverse effects either. 

But that was the route Adam and Eve chose, believing by this route they would “gain wisdom” (Genesis 3:6). It’s almost laughable if it wasn’t so sad. 

And that sadness has continued ever since too, as we blindly stumble from one experiment to another in how we stop a pandemic or prevent global warming, or to see if a drug is safe or not by horrible experiments on animals. And discover that nothing we do works without there being adverse effects, or unknown dangers. What a way to live. 

So why don’t we consult God for his help and guidance? But Adam and Eve didn’t do that either. Confronted by the serpent with an alternative to God and they immediately went along with it. No questions asked, no “Eve, my dear, do you think we ought to get God’s input on this first?” Just believe the serpent’s propaganda and don’t even seek advice or ask for evidence to support it. 

How sad, and how sad it is that God has the solution to pandemics, global warming and preservation of health, but who today wants to know what God thinks? We’d rather believe we have enough wisdom of our own to save ourselves. No wonder God told the Israelites “Choose life,” meaning trust him, because without his help and guidance we do end up in awful – and deadly – muddles.

But at least we’re left in no doubt that the Garden of Eden story was true, because we’re still in it today, making the same stupid choices Adam and Eve made, and with the same consequences too. But thanks to Jesus the life of certainty in the Garden of Eden is still on offer too.  

So, who’s been stirring this pandemic – God or the Devil?  

Plagues, pestilences and pandemics, God’s “done ’em all” through the ages. But with Covid 19 it doesn’t look like God’s fingerprints on the smoking gun, because when he sent plagues on Egypt, for instance, it was “to bring judgment on all their gods” (Exodus 12:12). All the gods the Egyptians worshipped were thoroughly humiliated. 

But that hasn’t happened with Covid. The gods of power and profits in our world have increased instead. Pfizer’s vaccine profits are enormous, governments have discovered new and addictive power being able to lock down entire cities and mandate vaccine passports, and social media has realized how easy it is to influence public opinion and inflame emotions into mass hysteria. And Covid hasn’t turned people to God in droves either, which is what God sent pestilence on the Israelites for (2 Chronicles 7:13-14). 

And if God sent Covid as punishment, then it’s the little people who’ve been hit the worst, not the rich and powerful, and why would God do that? 

So, whose fingerprints are more likely to be found on the smoking gun? Well, it doesn’t require a team of gifted investigative journalists or expert forensic scientists to sort that one out. The fruits of the pandemic have made it obvious, namely fear, deceit and division, the exact same weapons the crafty evil creature used on Adam and Eve, that have repeatedly been used and relied on by tyrants ever since too. 

Fear during Covid, for instance, has been constantly stoked by media, government and medical reports all focusing on the one single narrative of the huge number of Covid cases and deaths, ICUs being overwhelmed, and the horrible consequences awaiting those who aren’t vaccinated. And it’s the kind of fear that paralyzes us into a hermit-like existence, reduces us to shaky, tear-filled neurotics, or drives us into mob irrationality and hysterics.

The deceit during this pandemic, meanwhile, has been a pandemic all its own too. Skewed statistics, outright lies by trusted institutions and leaders, proclamations of vaccine safety turning out to be wrong, censorship and fact-checkers allowing no alternatives to the party line on vaccines, despite entire countries using alternatives to vaccines that on the ground have proved to work just fine. “Who is telling us the truth?” has become a growing cry of despair, as new and disturbing facts come to light about PCR tests, vaccine immunity waning, and vaccination not being a guarantee against Covid infection or being infectious. It’s not surprising, then, to hear the pandemic being called a scamdemic.

The evil creature in the Garden of Eden used scamming too, which turned into pandemic proportions through the ages as cunning individuals learned the art of propaganda to dupe the masses, causing untold millions of unnecessary and horrible deaths.  

And it doesn’t end there either, as we witness the dreadful division this pandemic has caused, in polarizing people into political tribes, splitting up families into vaxxers and anti-vaxxers, in heated protests, ugly, self-righteous  trolls assuming the moral high ground on social media, reputable experts being humiliated and shamed, and the unvaccinated being branded as anti-social psychopaths and hate-filled assassins of the innocent. And not forgetting the rich countries that gobbled up the vaccines without a care for the poor too. 

Fear, deceit and division, all fingerprints of the Evil One, which begs the question, “Why does God allow such evil to continue?” 

Could it be the same reason God allowed the Evil One to cause all those horrible problems for Job? It was to get the point across to Job that evil is real and only God can deal with it (Job 40:7-14). And have we ever experienced that lesson today too, as evil in its manifestations of fear, deceit and division have found no solution in any political platform, or made any difference to those drunk on power and profits.

And God has allowed the Evil One to do this to us, surely to help us weak, suffering humans begin to grasp that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood (or against each other),” Ephesians 6:12. Instead, we’re up against “the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” 

The irony of Halloween in a pandemic 

There was a time when people took evil seriously. They believed that evil spirits roamed the planet intending harm and mischief. So fear of evil was a real part of their lives, and so was the need to feel safe. Rituals and customs to ward off evil and help people to feel safe, therefore, became an essential and vital part of their culture. 

Now wind the clock forward and here we are in a pandemic, where again fear of harm is real and so is the need to feel safe. The virus is being treated much like those evil spirits of old as ‘public enemy number one’, so governments had to come up with something to help us feel safe too. The wearing of masks and lockdowns to keep the evil virus at bay, for example, became an essential part of our culture, as did a “miracle” working vaccine that, we were told, had the power to keep us safe by preventing the evil virus doing nasty things to us. So the pandemic, rather ironically, has given us a very real connection today with those in the past who created rituals and customs to help them feel safe from an invisible and very tricky enemy too. 

And it’s not surprising we have that connection because we also share the same invisible, tricky enemy. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us who it is too: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” So our ancestors are not to be scoffed at for their fear of evil spirits roaming the earth, nor for their rituals to feel safe from them either.   

But this is where the irony continues, because we may think our ancestors’ belief about evil spirits and their rituals for protecting themselves as rather primitive and silly, but we’ve picked up some really odd Halloween customs and rituals too, that ironically are very much like theirs. 

And for that we can thank the Irish, who happily claim they were the first to believe that on October 31st the most evil and vengeful of creatures came to play pranks on them. So to keep these evil creatures at bay they lit massive bonfires and dressed up like evil spirits to blend in, painting their faces black and wearing masks, so the spirits wouldn’t recognize and play tricks on them. They also dressed up as ghosts and demons to receive offerings of food on behalf of the spirits to appease them.  

And the idea of a lit up pumpkin, or turnip back then, pictured an Irish lad named Jack O’Lantern who tried to thwart the devil and got himself condemned to roaming Ireland for eternity with only a turnip, gouged out to hold a burning coal, to light his way. 

Which may seem weird and completely nutty to us, perhaps, but ironically it also sounds very familiar. As our kids prowl the streets on Halloween dressed up in costumes and masks to get treats, it’s like seeing the ghosts of our ancestors – doing exactly the same thing – travelling with them.

Which is where the irony continues too, because there’s something not quite right about children being given bags full of candy during a pandemic. We fear for our kids’ health and want them to be safe, which is why some are so sensitive about protecting children with mandatory masks and vaccines. But the kids most likely to get sick from the virus are those with underlying problems of diabetes and obesity, which candy and over indulging on sugar are connected to.  

I wonder if the irony of that is now more apparent, when our dearly loved custom of handing out candy is actually making our children more vulnerable to the Covid virus. Our ancestors would likely say, “Well, there’s your proof that evil is real and intent on doing mischief to us,” but what do we say? That “It’s all just a bit of harmless fun?”  

One has to wonder, therefore, if our ancestors had a better grasp of evil than we do, that there really are evil spirits roaming the planet looking for people to devour. 

But the irony for our ancestors was not grasping the solution to their fear of evil in a simple promise from God in James 4:7 – “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” And that all it would take to keep them safe was “not giving the devil a foothold,” Ephesians 4:27. And if they’d believed that they wouldn’t have come up with Halloween and all its weird customs that we are now lumbered with as well. 

We “need God” all right, but what kind of God?

I woke up this morning thinking, “If there’s one thing we’re learning during this pandemic, it’s that we need God.” I imagine to many people that’s become blatantly obvious already, but the next question I had was, “Yes, but God in what form?” 

We say we need God but what kind of God, or what picture of God, do we have in mind? And that’s when it dawned on me that we are in very much the same position today that the Jews were in before Jesus came, and the kind of God they were hoping and looking for. 

The great hope of the Jews back then was the arrival of the Messiah. And it’s what they were hoping the Messiah would come as, and what he would do, that ties in exactly with the kind of God we need today too. 

The Messiah would come first of all as a Saviour, nicely defined for us by Zechariah in Luke 1 when he thanked God for “raising up a horn of salvation for us,” meaning “salvation from our enemies,” verses 69 and 71, referring back to “the oath God swore to our father Abraham to rescue us from the hand of our enemies” in verses 73-74. The kind of Messiah the Jews were hoping for, then, was one who would deal with the evil forces that had oppressed and suppressed them for centuries. 

And in practical terms isn’t that the kind of Messiah we need right now too, who can rescue us from the evil forces that we are stuck with and have no way of escaping from either? Because who among any of those in powerful positions today – politicians, social media and Silicon Valley gurus, or billionaires addicted to power and profits – have we personally got any control over? We don’t. Nothing we do as regular citizens can stop their agendas, just like there was nothing the Jews could do about the Romans occupying their country and ruling their lives in the first century.  

We too, then, are learning very rapidly during this pandemic what it’s like to be oppressed and suppressed by powerful forces we have no control over. And it’s not a pleasant place to be in, when threats to the freedoms won for us by the blood of our parents and grandparents against evil forces are being made by tin pot dictators mandating policies that hobble careers, education, livelihoods and the mental stability of young and old alike. And all supposedly under the banner of health and safety, when it’s leaking out more and more that bullying us into conformity is what’s really driving government policy.  

Thankfully, the Messiah we’ve been given in Jesus promised peace in John 14:27 to those who trust him, which he defined as “our hearts not being troubled and not being fearful.” Jesus clearly knew what we were in for, but offered us a solution too. Now that’s the kind of practical Messiah I need, who knows what we’re going through, and promises us personally that he will rescue us from imploding and exploding mentally. 

Which ties in with Jesus the Messiah also being our High Priest who is able “to sympathize with our weaknesses,” Hebrews 4:15, having also experienced what it’s like living as a human in an oppressive culture. But now in his position as our High Priest we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence,” knowing for certain “that we may find grace to help us in our time of need,” verse 16

This is the kind of Messiah I need, who “is able to to save completely (or forever) those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede” for us, Hebrews 7:25.  

And not forgetting that Jesus our Messiah is also a King. And a mighty king at that too, because in Daniel 7:14 “He was given authority, glory and sovereign power” over “all peoples and nations,” and “his kingdom will never be destroyed.” So for all those in our world today who think they hold the strings and we’re just helpless puppets, they’ve got a wake-up call coming. Which makes it just a bit easier knowing that for now I’m just a little guy at the mercy of evil forces, but not forever

And isn’t that the kind of God we need during this pandemic? A God just like the Messiah the Jews were hoping for – a loving and all powerful Saviour, High Priest and King.

Is there really going to be a “Great Reset”? 

So the latest catch phrase for solving all the world’s problems and recovering from the global challenges created by the pandemic is “the Great Reset.” Forgive me for being negative, but having heard promises of great resets expressed in endless promises of “change” at every political election, I can’t help having my doubts about anything man-made resetting the world on any sort of utopian course. 

On the other hand, we could do with a great reset. Conspiracy theories aside about the Great Reset being a corporate takeover of world governance, the world we knew before the pandemic has been turned upside down. It has exposed all kinds of weaknesses in our health and health care, it has weighed down many countries with huge debts and mental health problems from lockdowns, and wrecked small town businesses that are the beating heart of a community. And just when we’re on the ropes along come more depressing reminders that climate change is still a major worry too. 

So, how are we going to get out of this pickle without being exploited by cunning people who live for power and money? And who on earth is left on this planet that we can truly trust for a workable and viable solution too?

Fortunately, we have a God who has a lot of experience in Great Resets. Thanks to our proclivity as humans to make monumentally stupid decisions, plus our constant gullibility to the deceptive power of evil, God’s had a lot of practice through the years at resetting cities and civilizations after disasters and upheavals, starting with Adam and Eve. 

It was those two characters who started the trend of thinking we humans are masters of our own destiny and we can deal with evil on our own, which set the stage for evil to spread like a virus so contagious and unstoppable that it even made God wince at creating humans in the first place (Genesis 6:6-7).  

So he brought that world to an end through a Flood and did a Great Reset through Noah and Abraham. But many more resets would still be required in future years too, at the Tower of Babel, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the creation of the nation of Israel to save the world. But demagogues and tyrants like Jezebel and Nebuchadnezzar took shots at destroying Israel, which needed God’s intervention yet again. 

And eventually Israel became so corrupt that God had them dragged off into humiliating slavery in Assyria and Babylon, and the Jews under Rome. And at that point it seemed like all was lost, when even the ones through whom God had chosen to reset and save the world could not resist the power of evil either.   

But God had one great Ace up his sleeve, that he’d waited until the time of the ruling Herods to play: he sent his Son in person to do the Greatest Reset of all. And it would also be a reset unlike any other seen before, because it would be done through individuals, and for the most part very ordinary people too. There’d be no nations involved, no gathering of filthy rich global influencers needed at an annual World Economic Forum, and not even well meaning politicians pouring heart and soul into making their nations great again.

It would be done through people taking on God’s nature with God’s help. The result would be people you’d love to have in charge of this world, because they’d be living for what Jesus lived for as a human being when filled with God’s nature. And there you have the formidable solution to selfish ambition for power and wealth – and providing immunity to evil too, our greatest enemy of all. 

So for those who think they can come up with a brilliant new idea for resetting the world, they could do with a reminder that Jesus has already been resetting the world for 2,000 years. So maybe it’s worth a look at how he’s been doing it. And it’s not complicated either. It’s laid out very nicely and simply for all to see and read in Acts chapter 3. 

Is there really going to be a Great Reset, then? Well, Jesus did promise it and he has the entire universe and beyond at his disposal to make it happen too. 

“Because it’s the right thing to do” 

It’s fun watching a cashier’s face when you point out that he, or she, gave you too much change. And if asked why you did it, you simply reply, “Well, it’s the right thing to do, isn’t it?” And how many great acts of bravery – or admissions of guilt – are driven by that same desire to do what’s right?  

“It’s not right” has also driven people to resist the crowd at huge risk of being publicly humiliated. It happened in both world wars, when pacifists rejected the call to join up and kill people, and were branded as selfish cowards. Some were even beaten up and killed.  

Scripture, however, very much supports doing what we believe is the right thing to do. James 4:17, for instance, says, “if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.” Think what difference that would have made in the pandemic if government officials, pharmaceutical companies and big corporations had made that their standard, rather than power trips and profits.

Doing the right thing is not easy, though, in a world that’s easily manipulated into mass hysteria creating huge pressure to conform. I find it very interesting, then, that in the first world war the most decorated non-commissioned war hero in the British forces was a pacifist who refused to fire a shot. Lance Corporal Bill Coltman joined the army and carried a gun, but then realized he couldn’t kill and refused to do so. So he became a stretcher bearer instead, and he was so brave in saving lives that he won Britain’s highest honour of bravery, the Victoria Cross, and a whole chestful of other medals too without ever firing a weapon. And instead of being shamed as an irresponsible, lazy, selfish coward he was heralded as a hero.  

In the second world war the U.S government gave their highest award of all, the Medal of Honour, to three men who also didn’t fire a shot, the first of them being Desmond Doss who believed it was the right thing to do to save lives not take lives. He was ostracized and bullied by his unit, and his commanding officers attempted to have him discharged for mental illness. 

But he soon proved he was made of stern stuff, refusing to desert 75 wounded men on Hacksaw Ridge, and saving the lives of every one of them. For dedication to his comrades and bravery treating wounded men under fire, he was awarded two Bronze Stars as well as the Medal of Honour. At the awards ceremony President Truman shook his hand and said, “I consider this a greater honour than being president.”  

Doss and Coltman stood their ground against peer pressure and threats from officials, because in their minds not killing was the right thing to do, and they eventually won great respect and honour for it. 

And Jesus said that of his disciples too, that “Blessed are you” – honoured and respected are you – “when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me,” Matthew 5:11. Because if we stick to what we we believe is right in Jesus’ eyes, then he makes sure that “great is our reward in heaven,” verse 12. A “heavenly” Medal of Honour, or Victoria Cross, awaits us. 

Christians and non-Christians alike in this pandemic have shown great bravery and courage in standing up for what they believe while under heavy pressure from family, friends, employers, officials and even medical personnel. Whether that meant taking the vaccine or refusing it was immaterial, when what mattered most in making a decision was saving lives rather than risking lives, and respecting others for their decision, not condemning them – because that for them was the right thing to do. 

Does Scripture support “conscientious objectors”?  

The term “conscientious objector” first arose after the United Kingdom Vaccination Act of 1853 resulted in a conscience clause being added in 1898 that allowed exemption from mandatory smallpox vaccinations for infant children. So the origin of the phrase was directly attached to resisting government mandated vaccination.

But then, three years later in 1901, a smallpox epidemic swept through the North Eastern U.S. resulting in vaccination being mandated for all adults. Again the mandate was challenged, just as it was in the UK earlier, but in February 1905 the Supreme Court ruled that “a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.” The only exemption allowed was “reasonable certainty” that vaccination for a person would “seriously impair his health or probably cause his death.” 

The safety of the general public, therefore, trumped all objections to vaccines, the only exception being an individual who would likely suffer serious adverse effects from the vaccine, including the risk of death.  

And from that point on the battle lines were drawn. On the one side were the “anti-vaxxers,” like the Anti-Vaccination Society of America, whose argument against vaccines was based on nature being the “greatest safeguard against disease.” To them natural immunity trumped vaccine induced immunity, and any attempt at enforcing vaccines was a threat against individual liberty and freedom of expression. 

On the other side, following an objection in 1922 to state laws requiring children to be vaccinated before attending public school, the court unanimously declared that “it is within the police power of a state to provide for compulsory vaccination.” In other words, the state knows best when it comes to public health and safety, and it must have the power to enforce what it believes is best too. In 2002 a federal court reinforced that ruling by refusing any exemptions to state mandates on public health, including religious beliefs, and even denying parents the right to decide what’s medically best for their children. 

Seventeen years later, in 2019, a measles outbreak in the New York area created a public health emergency which fined unvaccinated people if they didn’t comply with mandatory vaccination. No exemptions were allowed and therefore no conscientious objections either. Public safety came first, again. 

And government had Scripture on its side to support that too, because public safety is what God instituted human government for (Romans 13:1-4). So, is there ever room in Scripture for conscientious objectors?  

Well, yes, the obvious one being when government isn’t fulfilling its God-given duty to protect its citizens from harm and evil. A clear case in point being Ephesians 4:14, when government itself has fallen victim to being “carried about by every wind of [shifting] doctrine, by the cunning and trickery of [unscrupulous] men, by the deceitful scheming of people ready to do anything [for personal profit]” (from the Amplified Bible). 

And what better example of that today than governments supporting drug companies promoting vaccines with no data on long term effects, and no acceptance of liability for any other adverse effects either? So much for “public safety.” It also borders on severe abuse if governments then mandate these vaccines for children, and especially when the harmful effects on healthy children are known. 

So who’s out there with the authority to challenge governments on this? Well, it’s those in the same boat as government, who’ve also been given the job by God to know the tactics of evil and conscientiously resist them (2 Corinthians 2:11). So, just as government has the right to nail church denominations for abuse against children, why can’t its most conscientious ally, concerned Christians, call on the government to remember its God-given duty to protect the innocent too? So that both parties are now being motivated by the hope that together the two groups God has representing his will and purpose on this planet can make a serious dent in erasing evil.   

God wants us both, Christians and government, to conscientiously object to evil and harm in whatever form it pops up its ugly head in. And when either party feels powerless against evil, then we turn to God for help, just as Britain’s king in World War 2 called for a National Day of Prayer when the forces of evil were too great for Christians and government to resist. 

Does Scripture support conscientious objectors? Yes, and especially among members of government whose God-given civil duty is to expose and resist “the cunning and trickery of unscrupulous men, and the deceitful scheming of people ready to do anything for personal profit.” For the public’s safety.

Is it a Christian’s job to expose evil? 

During the pandemic just about everyone has been accused of being evil – politicians, pharmaceutical companies, the medical profession and care homes, the media and its colluding billionaires, those pressuring children to be vaccinated, employers and educators demanding proof of vaccination or loss of job and schooling, and the list goes on – including the “anti-vaxxers” being branded as assassins of the vulnerable. 

The fallout from all this is a massive loss of trust in any respected institution, the polarization of the public into emotional and irrational tribes, violent protests, increasing coercion and propaganda, families being split by opposing views, crippling mental health woes, serious worries about the damage to fragile economies, the unknown long term effects of experimental drugs, the educational system in desperate “catch up,” the huge backlog of pressing surgical and other untreated health problems, and – well, this list goes on too.

So what do Christians do about it, or feel we should do about it? Should we take sides and become vocal judge and jury on who’s right and who’s wrong? Do we denounce those we believe to be the primary evildoers, or steer clear of any involvement since we have no way of knowing what’s really going on behind the scenes? Could we too get caught up in conspiracy theories, misinformation and disinformation, or on the other hand, do we bury our heads in the sand and hope it all blows away soon so life can get back to normal?   

Well, as Christians we obviously look to Scripture – and scripturally Jesus had no qualms about exposing evil. Most of Matthew 23 is his blazing rebuke of the “teachers of the law and the Pharisees who sit in Moses’ seat,” verse 2, who gave the impression they deserved their lofty leadership positions, but in truth they were hypocrites, known for not practicing what they expected others to do (verse 3). So Jesus shamed, blamed, and named them in the most derogatory terms, such as “blind fools” (17), “whitewashed tombs” (27), and a “brood of vipers” who deserved no escape from the condemnation of hell (33).   

But why was Jesus openly branding these people as being evil? Because they were “sitting in Moses’ seat.” It was their job to preserve the law of Moses and be great examples of living it. But they weren’t doing what God had assigned them to do, so Jesus nails them for their hypocrisy. So did Peter, but he nails anyone and everyone in a leadership position who “brings the way of truth into disrepute,” 2 Peter 2:2, and they “will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done,” verse 13

So God does not take evil lightly. Which begs the question Jeremiah asked – that maybe we’ve asked a million times too – “Why (then) do the wicked prosper?” Jeremiah 12:1-2. Job asked the same question (Job 21:7), and it really bothered David too “when I saw the prosperity of the wicked,” which he describes in vivid detail in Psalm 73 – and details we’d easily recognize in our world right now too.  

But David also came to realize, after going to God about it, Psalm 73:16-17, what the “final destiny” of evil people is: God “places them on slippery ground” and “casts them down to ruin,” and “suddenly they are destroyed and completely swept away,” verses 18-19. And he “will despise them as mere fantasies,” verse 20

So if there really are evil people behind this pandemic, we can rest assured God isn’t going to let any of them get away with it. He is the great avenger (Romans 12:19), making sure that every bit of evil will be dealt with (Luke 8:17, Hebrew 4:13).

Knowing that, then, is it a Christian’s job to expose evil? According to Paul in Ephesians 5:11, yes, it is, because he says, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Jesus did. Peter did, and so did Paul. People won’t like their evil being exposed, but David’s Psalm 37 answers that for us…. 

A pandemic lament – but can despair be turned into hope?

“My body, my choice,” has been one of the mantras during the pandemic for those opposing vaccines, along with “my rights, my freedom and my privacy” expressed at many a protest march against vaccine passports and lockdowns. And a third mantra, “Over my dead body,” has been the powerfully emotional response by parents on hearing their children can be vaccinated without parental knowledge or consent. 

Each mantra is like a lament, a cry of despair in response to those who accept nothing but vaccination to end the pandemic and won’t accept any other view or treatment. It is so sickening to some that they cannot help wonder if there’s something sinister and maybe even evil going on.  

It was the same in Paul’s day too, because in 2 Thessalonians 3:2 Paul asked his fellow Christians to “pray that we may be delivered from unreasonable and evil people.” My King James Bible centre column mentions the word “absurd” for unreasonable, which has strong synonyms like “ludicrous, preposterous, idiotic, illogical.” But Paul was not only up against people who made no sense, they were also “evil,” which in verse 2 was based on the Greek word meaning “actively harmful.” So these people were also out to silence and oppose Paul by whatever sinister and nasty means they could come up with. 

And that made Paul lament too. The absurdities he faced from unreasonable and evil people had made him “despair even of life,” 2 Corinthians 1:8. He was close to being suicidal, or as he put it, “we felt the sentence of death within ourselves,” verse 9. But what was the point in continuing on when the absurdity of people had driven him and his coworkers “beyond our ability to endure,” verse 8

And it was despair that did that to Paul. It nearly killed him. So it’s really worrying to see despair doing the same thing during this pandemic, when highly qualified experts in the medical profession, for example, find themselves being shut down, censored and publicly shamed for simply trying to offer other treatments they’ve seen work on viruses. And now these doctors are lamenting too, because they see people dying who didn’t need to die.   

So how did Paul deal with his despair? Well, first of all, he recognized the source of the madness he was up against, because, following on in 2 Thessalonians 3:3, he writes, “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”

So Paul wasn’t shy about sinister forces at work. They were real. He also recognized that God allowed such forces to operate, so that, following on in 2 Corinthians 1:9, “we might not rely on ourselves but on God” who “has delivered us from such a deadly peril (of despairing even of life), and he will deliver us.”

On the one hand, then, Paul had been surprised by the depth of evil he encountered, but on the other hand he knew why it needed to exist – to discover there was a power far greater he could depend on to keep him sane that was just as real too. 

So for those today, for instance, who lament government, medical and pharmaceutical officials all pronouncing an experimental drug as “safe” for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, without any data or experience of its long term consequences and effects on babies, Paul is offering an answer: that evil is real, but so is God when we’re feeling sick at heart at the absurdities in our world and we turn to him for help.

For God “raises the dead,” Paul wrote in verse 9. That was how Paul described his experience of God lifting him out of his despair, And it was so real that Paul then wrote in verse 10, “On him we set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.” 

In vaccine terms, God would provide Paul with continuing immunity against the evil one drowning him in despair. And Paul’s belief in that being true and factual was backed up by solidly based data and the long term effects in his own life too, because in all his many other travels after 2 Corinthians 1 Paul never talks about being overwhelmed by despair again.   

So, yes, Paul would say, despair can be turned into hope, when it dawns on us, as it dawned on him, that we too live in a world that at times is “beyond our ability to endure,” but we have a God who enables us to keep our heads while all about us are losing theirs (from Rudyard Kipling’s poem If).