By Doris Nell
Church attendance was not a part of my childhood or youth. However, at Wilmington College, I was required to take a semester of both Old and New Testament. I also encountered the Quaker beliefs and adopted one core article of their faith: “There is that of God in every person.” Not until my mid-twenties, did I become a church member and attend regularly at Pleasant Run Presbyterian Church.
Soon I was teaching Sunday school, sharing with teenagers the lessons of Jesus: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We also read his answer to the question in Genesis, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Over and over Jesus answered, “Yes.” We studied the story of the Good Samaritan who went the extra mile to save and protect a stranger. In this Presbyterian Church I came to fully believe that demonstrating love and forgiveness was the path that led to a life of meaning and a close relationship with God.
Now a pandemic tests our commitment as people of faith to act on our faith by protecting others in our church family, our community, state and country—to all our brothers and sisters around the world. Thanks to President Trump, Operation Warp Speed provided life-saving vaccines; and President Biden has developed widespread distribution. Yet many, including Christians, refuse to take the vaccine that will preserve their lives and prevent the spread of Covid to others. Their perspective reflects the fact that we live in a democracy where we cannot be ordered by government to take the vaccination. Of course, the choice is up to the individual.
Yet when I hear people assert their right not to be vaccinated, I think of the once popular phrase: WWJD—What Would Jesus Do? The lessons I taught to Sunday school students whisper in my ear, “Love your neighbor,” “You are your brother’s and sister’s keeper.” Jesus put the focus on loving and protecting others, behaving with compassion and a sense of responsibility to your family, even to the stranger.
Christians of faith, believers in the message of Christ can embrace opportunities to let their lives shine like a light in the darkness of this plague. It has taken too, too many lives. To those who refuse a shot that was developed at warp speed and made easily available, I ask, “What would Jesus do? How would he respond to an act that lessens suffering and death?”
I hope my belief that “there is God in everyone” is realized and that people are motivated to respond positively—to get a vaccination. This is a choice that they can make.