Today is World AIDS Day, a day of supporting those who suffer from HIV and a time to seek a cure. It’s also a day when the Christian Church needs to repent of our unpleasant and uncaring past.
Revelation 14:19 The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath.
In the early eighties, when we first diagnosed HIV/AIDS, a majority of evangelical church leaders preached that this was the result of God’s wrath being unleashed upon the homosexual community. Pastors gleefully berated the gay community and scornfully sentenced homosexuals to a slow, agonizing, and isolated death. Instead of recognizing the disease as an opportunity to show Christian compassion, churches delighted in demonizing, leperizing, and shunning a whole community of people who needed love, comfort, and acceptance.
The consequences of the mistakes that the church made way back then are still with us today. Because we allowed false prophets of hate to take over our pulpits, we lost all credibility. A whole generation has grown up since those hellish days, and now the church is faced with its own terminal condition, brought about by our reckless rhetoric and inhumane attacks on those who were defenseless, destitute and dying.
Perhaps we will never regain the trust of society because of our persecution of those whose lifestyles were different from ours. I guess it all depends upon whether we are willing to listen to our critics, or if we only want to hear what we say about ourselves.
Today is World AIDS Day and many people of different faiths, including Christians, are praying for the victims of this disease. If every Christian Church was to see this as a day of repentance for our past abuses, and act upon it by supporting those who suffer though AIDS around the world, then just maybe our planet would be able to see Jesus. At the moment, most people cannot see Christ because of the Christians that get in His way. For once, myself included, we need to step back and let the true Christ emerge – the Savior of the Dying, the Healer of the Nations, and the Loving Lord of all the Earth.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive us for allowing our pride and prejudices, our self-righteousness and severe spirituality to hinder Your work amongst the lost and unloved, the diseased and dying. Help us to see every person as a child of God in need of hope, love, and care. Keep us from demonizing those whom we do not fully know or understand. In Your Holy Name, we pray for the complete healing of AIDS throughout the entire world. Amen.