Sorry, I refuse to receive the COVID-19 vaccine!” the patient adamantly declared. I had already grown accustomed to such responses as a physician working in a hospital in the heart of Nairobi. This patient, however, was more insistent than most. “Daktari,¹ you will never convince me to get the COVID-19 jab. Why? Because I have heard that once I am vaccinated, my body will explode when I approach a light bulb!”
I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or just keep a straight face, as I tried to contain the mixed emotions within me. I couldn’t believe that an unfounded belief in the light bulb conspiracy was standing in the way of my patient receiving a potentially lifesaving medical intervention. Couldn’t he understand that most of the COVID-19 patients in the critical-care units in my hospital were unvaccinated? My heart sank as I remembered how many patients have died from COVID-19 in my country, which had just experienced the fourth wave of the pandemic. Two of my family members had recently succumbed to this deadly disease, and the wounds of these memories were still fresh in my mind.
I remembered some of the responses I had received after I had given a health talk on COVID-19 and the vaccines at my local congregation: “Daktari, the COVID-19 vaccine is related to the mark of the beast of Revelation! How can you encourage the Adventist faithful to take it?” Social media had been awash with news on how the vaccine could supposedly alter human DNA and contained microchips aligned to the new world order as foretold in prophecy. Were all these balanced opinions?
Ever since the entrance of sin in the Garden of Eden we have all suffered the results of imbalance because we are imperfect human beings. The serpent challenged Eve’s belief system with the first conspiracy recorded in Scripture. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1, NIV). Eve’s beliefs were tipped out of balance, and as a result, sin entered the world. The rest is history.
God sought to restore the balance in our belief system. He sent His Son, Jesus, so “that whoever believes in Him should not perish” (John 3:16). Not only is Jesus the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), but He is also our way to truth in our lives. When we focus on Him, we find balance, and doubts fostered by conspiracies are banished from our hearts. When we take our eyes off Jesus, we allow ourselves to be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14), be it conspiracies, news, fears, or fads.
This isn’t something new. Jesus’ earthly ministry was obscured by false conspiracies, biased misconceptions, and unbalanced opinions. His identity was questioned (cf. Matt. 16:14). Some Jewish leaders stubbornly insisted that His miracles were enabled by the devil (Matt. 12:24).
Navigating the right path between truth and error, reason versus emotion, tradition versus innovation, demands a mental and spiritual reset that must be fueled by the Holy Spirit. Foreseeing our proclivity to skewed beliefs, Jesus told us that He would send the Holy Spirit to shape our belief system—the Spirit of truth, who would “take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is” (John 16:13, Message).²
Where is our focus today? Do we prayerfully allow the Holy Spirit to shape our convictions? Does Jesus form the true north of our mental compass? Or does society, news, social media, science, politics, and other worldly influences mold our beliefs? My patient reminded me of my most important belief: at the end of time my eternal destiny can be secure only if I heed the call to step into God’s marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
I can do that without fear and trepidation. There are no exploding bulbs in God’s kingdom.