Advent has taken on new meaning this year, as the world waits in hope and anticipation for a vaccine that will return us to normal. The whole Earth is participating in Advent’s ritual of waiting in hope. We wait for the coming or advent of Christ. This coming will not be like his first when He came in humility with the birth announcement “A Saviour is born!”. It will be a coming of a different sort. He will come as the omnipotent LORD here to put all things right and establish his reign of justice and peace.
While the world awaits a ‘return to normal’ scriptures tell us that no vaccine can return us to ‘normal’. Even if the pandemic suddenly vanished the world would be a sick one plagued by selfishness and sin. Scripture informs us that God has grander plans. God’s plan is to restore mankind and indeed the whole Earth to before the original plague of sin.
This Advent as we await the vaccine we are told that vaccines do not save us. We are told instead that it is vaccinations that will save us. Not until people choose to be vaccinated, not until they submit to vaccination, will the benefits be truly experienced. There is a personal element that needs to be activated to claim the healing.
The waiting in hope and the personal acceptance of the vaccine are ready parallels to the saving and restoring work of Christ, that we long for. We do not hope as if salvation were not just over the horizon. We hope in certainty resting on the utter faithfulness of our faithful God.
In the meantime, just like during the pandemic, there are mitigating efforts we ought to be engaged in. We ought to be heralds of Jesus soon coming. The Church ought to be a mitigating force in the world rescuing people from ‘the worst of the curse’. Just as wearing masks, social distancing, and hand washing mitigate the pandemics effects so our efforts in evangelism and social justice mitigate the toll of sin on our world.
It is a shameful thing when those who name Christ as Lord demand the world’s idea of freedom rather than to embrace the high calling to servant leadership. Philippians 2 tells us Jesus set aside his rights in order to serve and save us. Even if we have freedom to exert (I do not concede this) Paul in Romans 14 admonishes those who feel like this to be careful not to use their freedom to cause others to stumble. Christians demanding rights at others’ expense are not closely following their Lord. Such practises are harmful and ought to be rethought.
So let us fix our eyes on a vaccine but more importantly on the coming Reign of Christ, and let us occupy the time in mitigating activities, and as the Hypocratic Oath expresses “First of all, Do no harm!”