AIDS and Jesus
by Rev Tim Oakley, Wundanyi, Kenya.
Is AIDS like leprosy?
The two are different – but both are feared. Both can isolate the suffering from those around. AIDS now is like leprosy was once – no cure. Since Old Testament times the Jews had treated leprosy as if it was the direct result of sin. Just as sin must be rejected, so a leper was pushed out of his community. Yet it was only a disease – one that can now be cured. We all hope that AIDS will also become curable too. But how would you or I feel, if, because of the misfortune of getting a disease, no-one would even touch you?
Read Luke 5:12-16. Jesus healed the man! And so today, the Lord may heal some people with AIDS. Look at the caring action of Jesus as he declared healing. He touched the leper without fear! We can pray for those with AIDS and some may be healed. But just as important, we can all ask the Lord to take away from us our fear of AIDS. Those suffering from it must not be isolate as lepers once were. They need to know that we still love them. And if we fear touching them, then we too need healing – from the one who touched a leper. Jesus now wants to “touch” those with AIDS through us.
- How are people with AIDS (or leprosy) treated in your area?
- How could we respect and care more for them?
- How can we pray for them in a way which will show our love?
Is AIDS a punishment?
Read Luke 13:1-5. As the Jews heard this news, they wanted to know why God had “punished” those Galileans like that. Had it been for their own sins – or the sins of others? Jesus said “No”.
He reminded them of another story – when a tower had collapsed killing 18 people. Had these people died because they had sinned more that others? Again Jesus said “No”. But he went on to say that such sudden death was a reminder to all of us that death is nothing – nothing compared to the tragedy of dying without God.
So to AIDS - always a tragic waste of a human life. In some cases the person was careless in their behaviour. In other cases, someone else was careless in not sterilising needles properly. In other cases no-one knew the risks. But Jesus reminds us that we all sin. Jesus would teach us that the tragedy of AIDS is a warning to us all, of a greater tragedy ahead if we reject God.
- How have different people in your area become infected with HIV? (maybe ask the medical people to explain this).
- Have you ever been guilty of immorality or carelessness? (or even something worse).
- Do you think that dying from AIDS is a punishment or a tragedy?
- How can we teach that AIDS warns us of a greater tragedy (of dying without God) without causing more hardship to someone with AIDS?
AIDS and the Glory of God
By the time of Jesus, many of the teachings of the Old Testament had been over-simplified, with results such as: “If you are suffering, it must be because you have sinned”. Is this true, particularly for someone who is born suffering? Is the baby with AIDS really being punished because of its parent?
Read John 9:1-5. The disciples realised the problem. Surely this man had not sinned before he was even born? However Jesus didn’t even try to answer their question directly. He preferred to stop his followers from blaming people. Instead, they should pray for more of God’s love and glory to be seen – even in the suffering that you and I see today. And so this blind man was not only healed but revealed God’s glory in Jesus the Saviour.
So our attitude to AIDS should be, not “Whose fault” but rather, “God’s opportunity to do what?” The light of Jesus is seen best when there is darkness, whether through suffering or doubt. May His Light in us shine as we face not only those with AIDS but also those who think that such people are only to be condemned.
- What do people in your area say about those with AIDS?
- How can we be practical in our love?
- How do we get the spiritual strength from the Lord to be positive about the sufferings which we and others face?