Hey You!.......Submit......please.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Written by Alan Vink

Categories: Pastors Blog

Comments: 0

Dear Pastors

Hey You!……Submit……please.

Is it ever wrong for Christians to disobey the laws of the land? This of course is not a new question. Christians throughout history have wrestled with this issue. I think most of us will agree that there are times it is entirely right to disobey the laws of the land (otherwise known as civil disobedience).

When the law(s) of the land forces you or makes you do something the Bible clearly says you shouldn’t then as Christians we are called upon to obey God not man, no matter what the cost. Biblical teaching is clear at this point, God is our ultimate authority and to whom we must answer.

What then naturally follows is that if we believe we are called to obey God and in doing so break the law of the land then we must live with the consequences. Daniel, Peter and Paul in the Bible serve as good examples of this.

So this for me is fairly straight forward. The question of the hour right here right now for the Church in NZ (and not as so straight forward) is this. “Is now an appropriate time for Christians to disobey the law (public health measures)? Is now the right time to protest ? Is now the right time to ignore the new rules (laws) around church gatherings? Is it even appropriate to rail against the Government in these pandemic times?

My response is……..NO it isn’t. As Christians we shouldn’t disobey public health measures. No we shouldn’t protest. No we shouldn’t ignore or flaunt the new rules and laws and no we shouldn’t rail against the Government. At least, not now!

  1. The points that follow only make sense in the light of this first point. We are still living in the midst of a Global Pandemic and by all accounts that may be the case for another 1-2 years. It is a deadly virus that has got us to where we are today not anything or anyone else.
  2. The New Zealand Government like most all Governments of the world are working really hard to minimise the loss of life and to minimise the risk of overloading the Health system and hospitals in particular. As I write the strain on New Zealand’s hospitals should worry us all. Already people with other illnesses are getting sicker and even dying due to missed medical appointments. Surely, as a Christian community we care deeply about this?
  3. Even though peaceful protests are legal and appropriate and even a good thing as we have seen in NZ’s history, I wish to put forth today that now is not such a time. Rather, as a Christian community we would be better to support the Government because the Government along with about 6000 doctors (including hundreds of experts) are committed to our health and wellbeing.
  4. The Government is treating all New Zealanders in an even handed manner. There is no ‘hard’ evidence that the Church and Religious groups are being signalled out. None whatsoever. In fact there is evidence in the opposite direction in that the Government including our PM know the importance of people being able to find comfort and strength from Church especially older folks, those who are lonely, and vulnerable people in general. There is no ‘hard’ evidence that our Government has adopted an anti-church stance as such.
  5. It is clearly intended by our Government that the new measures (law) being proposed is temporary whilst we are in pandemic times and that once we are on top of this virus and its many variants then these laws will no longer be ‘fit for purpose’. That means they will be ‘retired’. No longer required.
  6. Therefore, I believe now is a time we should “submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God”. Romans 13:1 (NLT). Or as The Message says “Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen”
  7. It is true that we as Christian leaders will not agree in all policy settings. But that shouldn’t deter us from the overall objective which is to keep ALL New Zealanders safe AND to minimise the risk of over burdening our hospitals.
  8. Having submitted to Government requirements we now have the wonderful challenge of figuring out how we can be the Church (the called out ones) in Covid times. As pastors and elders we now need to figure out how we can go forward together in unity, loving both the vaxxed and the unvaxxed all the while respecting those God has put in places of authority ‘over’ us.
  9. As I write this morning I have heard and read of many churches (the majority by far it seems) doing exactly that and I am loving hearing about the wonderful creative ideas that are being considered. For example this coming Sunday my wife is leading a short service in the church’s carpark in a L3 step 2 context. Apparently coffee will be served and that of course changes everything. I’m told the saints are very keen to gather.

My hope and prayer is that we know the wisdom that comes ‘from above’ in this hour perhaps like never before. May God grant us all that gift.


Alan Vink is currently the Executive Director for LeadershipWorx. Prior to this role he has been the Executive Director of Willow Creek Association NZ (WillowNZ), a Baptist pastor (23 years), Bible College teacher, and church consultant.

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