When Jesus AIDS Others – World AIDS Day

aids-world-day“Do you see this woman?”

My cousin died of AIDS before we knew much about the disease. Emaciated and wracked by the disease he was a shell of his former self. He died in relative obscurity. No doubt his family felt stigmatized.

Several years later I would sit in an Ethics class in seminary. By this time, the latter 1980’s, churches were scrambling to understand what to do and how to protect themselves. One fellow, a member of a large church in the DFW area, brought the church manual designed to help inform people and protect themselves.

“Do you see this woman?”

Wear a condom. Don’t share needles. Be monogamous. If you are around blood grab a pair of gloves. Protect yourself. Some friends and I were “pool cleaners” during that same time. We were told to be sure to maintain the proper chlorine levels. In areas where a given group of people were at higher risk we thought it best to shade the higher side of acceptable. We were protecting ourselves.

“Do you see this woman?”

“Pastor, we believe God wants us to adopt a little girl.” “Great,” I replied. “We believe our church should help us with this decision. This little girl’s mother died of AIDS.” “We are with you,” I affirmed. We met together and discussed the conviction of this couple. They had children. Double the national average. But, they believed God wanted them to be Jesus to this little girl. We prayed. We affirmed their commitment. We supported them in prayer and other means as we learned together what it would mean to AID others. We have shared in the joy of watching this young girl continue to grow with the lingering threats accompanying HIV.

“Do you see this woman?”

Jesus asked Simon if he could see the woman who had wept at Jesus’ feet. Who had anointed his feet with an expensive perfume. Who had wiped his feet with her hair. Scandalous. Seductive. Controversial. Yes, that was Simon’s response. While he thought Jesus was scandalous allowing this woman to seductively wipe his feet with her hair he wanted no part of the controversy that would follow his reputation. Jesus asked, “Do you see this woman?”

Simon could see a person whom he could categorize as sinner. Simon could see a person whom he was concerned about her behavior and alleged practices. Simon could not see this person. He could not see this person who had been AIDed by the message of Jesus and the person of Jesus. He could not see how he himself should have been prepared to engage and, yes, embrace this human being in desperate – even knowing – need. He was protecting himself.

According to Snodgrass, this incident wherein Jesus tells a parable about two debtors and greater loving, the story and its accompanying parable wound us from the back. We would scold Simon. We would then be scolding ourselves.

LORD God grant those suffering the stigma of a disease we fear peace, be they in alleged high risk groups or suffering under the weight of a parents errant lifestyle choices. Father, to those orphaned by this dis-ease gather “parents” around so they might find hope and direction in a world with often too many options that only scar us further. Jesus remind your church to AID others in your name. Spirit of God keep us safe as we risk our own care for the benefit and blessing of others.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

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