Vaccination shots for the Covid-19 virus have surely caused a lot of discussion and controversy. Many have been hesitant to get vaccinated for a variety of reasons (in their thinking), from the vaccine altering your DNA to it being a step to the “Mark of the Beast” of the Tribulation period, without which you cannot buy or sell (or travel or attend events, etc).
Several pharmaceutical companies raced to be the first to release the serums which were then sent throughout the world to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Around half the population of the U.S.A. (ages 12 and up) have now been vaccinated. The CDC is still discussing whether booster shots will be needed. And there have been a number of variants of the virus which have been spreading as well. Our conversations are permeated with talk about vaccination. Yesterday we drove to Kalispell to shop and as we entered Walmart, a gentleman leaving the store offered me his cart, saying: “I’ve had both my shots!”
To simplify how vaccines work, you receive just enough of the virus for your immune system to adjust to fight it, developing an immunity that will protect you from the full impact. That’s why vaccines, like the flu shot or the Covid-19 vaccine, can make you feel sick for a day or two, but are effective in the long run. A vaccine is typically a good thing, but what if rather than saving you, it cost you everything?
Many people today have a spiritual inoculation (vaccination) preventing them from receiving genuine new birth and transformation. They have been inoculated with religion, but do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They think they are okay because they once said a “sinner’s prayer,” or they raised their hand at an evangelistic meeting, or they attend church, or they have been baptized, or they have taken communion, or … They call themselves Christians but have never really gotten the “real thing.” They “got religion,” but they don’t have Christ living within them. They received just enough religion to think they’re safe, without allowing the Holy Spirit to transform their soul, change their life and alter their eternity.
A prime example from Scripture is Nicodemus, the very religious Pharisee who came to visit Jesus one night. Although Nicodemus didn’t ask the question, Jesus knew what was on his heart, and said to him: “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (go to heaven)” (Jn. 3:3). Nicodemus’ heritage and religiosity wasn’t enough for him to go to heaven. He had to experience being “born of the Spirit” i.e., “from above” (v. 6) in order to have eternal life. Earlier in his gospel, John wrote: “…as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:12,13). In other words, there are things to be believed (about Jesus and His death and resurrection) and a person to be received (asked into our life as our personal Savior and Lord). A Christian is not someone who “got religion,” but a person in whom Christ dwells, having been invited in. Later in his first epistle, John wrote: “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (I Jn. 5:11,12). Then John adds these encouraging words: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may KNOW that you have eternal life” (v. 13).
We can really know that we are “saved,” have eternal life, have been “born again,” and have a place reserved for us in heaven. How? If we have believed on the Son and invited Him into our life, acknowledging that it is only by what He did for us (His grace) that we can be saved, that eternal life is in a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, not in a church or ritual or “religion,” we have “the life.” It is a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe who became our Redeemer through dying for our sin.
Have you only been “inoculated” or do you have the real thing? Have you been “born again?” Are you a “new creature” in Christ? Does your life show it? Do you love God’s Word? Do you enjoy fellowship with fellow believers? Do you have a burden for the souls of family and friends? Do you have a sensitivity to sin? Do you have a desire to serve God, to love Him with all your heart, and to love your neighbor? If not, you may have just been vaccinated with religion and need to trust in Christ alone for eternal life.