Pursuing Justice

Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue. Deuteronomy 16:20 NASB

Kay (not her real name) lounged diagonally across the green recliner chair in the middle of the emergency department, her eyes closed. Her triage entry said she was there because she had a tick embedded in her leg, but there was obviously much more to her story. Quickly scrolling through her past notes, I noticed multiple entries from support organisations for mental health issues and homelessness.

After directing her to the toilets in the waiting room, she disappeared. I presumed she had left when she grew tired of the wait to be seen, but an hour later she returned, milk bottle from the supermarket in hand. It was getting close to my finishing time, and I was tempted to not see her. Her past history sounded complicated. The night shift doctors would arrive soon, and she would eventually be seen by one of them.

But something nudged me to see her. God often sends me patients to teach me something. Kay was one of those patients. As I detached the remaining fragments of tick from her leg, she told me her story of domestic violence and homelessness. She also proudly told me about her two children – one doing nursing and one in the army.

Every day at work, I come into contact with the fringes of society. The Emergency Department is a place where everyone can go. The only thing required is the patience to wait when it is busy. Despite living lifestyles that I can’t even imagine, I try to see each person as God sees them. Many of them have had little love in their lives, and maybe just a brief interaction with a doctor who cares might give them a feeling of belonging.

There are some who are pushing back against Covid-19 vaccinations. They know that they are not at risk. They live in spacious houses, with plenty of fresh air. They have healthy diets and don’t use drugs or alcohol. After all, it is only the flu. But it is one thing to make a decision for yourself. It is another to actively try to get others to agree with your decision, a decision that may have far different consequences for them and their families.

I have heard the Covid-19 vaccine compared to the mark of the beast. Yes, the mark of the beast will be grounded in coercion…the coercion of worship. That is very different to a law grounded in a desire to save lives. The mark of the beast actively pushes against the gospel being preached a few verses earlier: “Fear God and give glory to Him.” Revelation 14:7

That gospel may be the “truth”, but it isn’t a list of “truths”. Instead, it is truth in our hearts being demonstrated by our actions. It is love actively pushing against hate. The mark of the beast results in hate because that is the exact opposite of who God is. The mark of the beast is an issue of loyalty and love to God, not a vaccination.

I watched a sermon alleging that vaccinated Seventh-day Adventists will be more likely to acquiesce to a Sunday law. The Sabbath is fundamentally about rest. This is not just claiming rest as a right for myself but distributing that same rest to everyone around me. At the heart of the Sabbath is justice, providing everyone from the King to the slave the opportunity to spend time with God and worship God.

That is the same justice I want to give to my patients in the Emergency Department…the justice of treating the homeless man in the same loving way as our local politician. Deuteronomy 6:5 says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”  

God wants us to love Him with our thoughts, and He wants us to love Him with our actions. The only antidote to the mark of the beast is to have our hearts and minds flooded with the love of God. Keeping the Sabbath is to actively give that freedom to rest and worship to others.

Every day, I ask myself: Is my love for God shown in how I treat others? Loving God isn’t about following the edicts of the Ten Commandments. The law is necessary to show me that on my own, I can’t keep it. Loving God is about living out that love in my life by loving others. The purpose of the Ten Commandments is to show me how to love. This is a love that I can only have if I have a personal relationship with God.

I am not physically attending church because I am reluctant to put the unvaccinated and the elderly at risk. Every time I go to work, it is possible I will care for someone that may have Covid 19. For me, love for God means that I desire that freedom for others comes above my own freedom.

I want freedom and justice for pregnant mothers, the elderly, and those fighting cancer. I want freedom and justice for drug addicts and alcoholics. I want freedom and justice for the homeless and the abused and the violated.  I want to love everyone like God loves me. I want them to see a glimpse of God in me, the God who came to minister to the outcasts of society.

After fourteen years spent sleeping on the streets, Kay has recently received support from a group that has found her a house to live in. They will be taking her to get her Covid immunisation this week. There are many in her situation who do not have the personal resources to access immunisations. This is also the group that because of their social situations are at the highest risk of getting Covid-19.

As a doctor, being vaccinated shows the love I have for Kay and all my patients. It shows the love I have for my own family and my church family. Being vaccinated is the gospel playing out in my life practically because of Jesus and the immense sacrifice He made for me. In his sermon Politics at the End, Ty Gibson said, “Under pressure, everybody acts out their picture of God.” What is your picture of God like?

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed.”  Luke 4:18