Editor’s note: World AIDS Day is Dec. 1. What can your church do?
Jesus has AIDS.
Just reading that in the type in front of you probably has some of you angry. Let me help you see why that is, and, in so doing, why caring for those with AIDS is part of the gospel mandate given to us in the Great Commission.
The statement that Jesus has AIDS startles some of you because you know it not to be true. Jesus, after all, is the exalted son of the living God. He has defeated death in the garden tomb, and defeated it finally. Jesus isn’t weak or dying or infected; he’s triumphant and resurrected.
Yes, but, what we’re often likely to miss is that Jesus has identified himself with the suffering of this world, an identification that continues on through his church. … Through the Spirit of Christ, we “groan” with him at the suffering of a universe still under the curse (Rom. 8:23,26). This curse manifests itself, as in billions of other ways, in bodies turned against themselves by immune systems gone awry.
… Some of you are angered by the statement I typed above because you think somehow it implicates Jesus. After all, AIDS is a shameful disease, one most often spread through sexual promiscuity or illicit drug use.
Yes, but those are the very kinds of people Jesus consistently identified himself with as he walked the hillsides of Galilee and the streets of Jerusalem, announcing the kingdom of God. Can one be more sexually promiscuous than the prostitutes Jesus ate with? Can one be more marginalized from society than a woman dripping with blood, blood that would have made anyone who touched her unclean (Luke 8:40-48)? Jesus touched her, and took her uncleanness on himself.
AIDS is scandalous, sure. But not nearly as scandalous as a cross.
… When we stand in judgment, we’ll stand, Jesus tells us, accountable for how we recognized him in the trauma of those who don’t seem to bear the glory of Christ at all right now. We see Jesus now, by faith, in the sufferings of the crack baby, the meth addict, the AIDS orphan, the hospitalized prodigal who sees his ruin in the wires running from his veins.
I wonder how many of us will hear the words from our Galilean emperor, “I had AIDS and you weren’t afraid to come near me.”
And so, if we love Jesus, our churches should be more aware of the cries of the curse, including the curse of AIDS, than the culture around us. Our congregations should welcome the AIDS-infected, and we shouldn’t be afraid to hug them as we would hug our Christ. Our congregations should be on the forefront of missions to AIDS-ravaged regions of the world. Our families should be willing to welcome those orphaned by this global scourge.
Through it all, we should be insistent in gospel proclamation. To those whose blood has become their own enemy, we should announce blood they know not of, the blood of One who can cleanse them of all unrighteousness, just as it cleansed us (1 John. 1:7); the blood of One who is forever immune to sin and death and hell (John. 6:53-56).
Jesus loves the world, and the world has AIDS. Jesus identifies himself with the least of these, and many of them have AIDS. Jesus calls us to recognize him in the depths of suffering, and there’s AIDS there too.
Jesus has AIDS.
Excerpted from russellmoore.com. Read the full article by clicking here.