Andyouinvitedmein’s Weblog

And You Invited Me In – The Blog

Posted on: February 9, 2008

cover.jpgBook Beginnings  

I don’t know how many people can remember what it was like in the mid-80’s and early 90’s when the topic of AIDS came up. Everyone was scared they would be infected with the virus. One of my distant relatives stated that he wasn’t going to swim at his club anymore for fear he would get it. Sermons were preached about AIDS and people who had it. There was no question in my mind that the conservative church helped to stir the pot of fear.

Before the drug cocktails, death from AIDS was swift and horrid. Victims had cancer, lung and stomach conditions, Candida, dementia, and more. That’s where this story began.

We were living in an affluent neighborhood of a Southern city. However, it could have been Boston, Seattle or Phoenix. Our landlord had AIDS. ‘Joe’ was a committed member of a large conservative church. Joe was doing everything right according to the conservative church ‘rules’. You know, the unofficial rules that makes you ‘right with God’: daily Bible study and prayer, regular church attendance, fellowship only with other Believers, among other things.

Joe believed that God would heal him, and didn’t tell his family that he had AIDS. Then suddenly he was at death’s doorstep and hospitalized. The task of cleaning Joe’s house and contacting his family fell on us. My husband diplomatically explained to his mother that she needed to hurry because Joe was hospitalized with more than a severe sinus problem. I called our mega-church to get a pastor to the hospital. I detailed the needs of the family to him. He did his part and visited the hospital one time.

I was devastated and wondered: where was the church for Joe? After all he had followed all the rules. Why was the church not there to help clean his house, cook his meals, and minister healing to the breaking hearts of his loved ones? Where was the right hand of Christian fellowship when it was most needed?

Joe’s story is the norm—even today more than a decade later. There are many stories of people with AIDS who barely have a bowl of soup to eat because their family has deserted them. These individuals—created in the image of God—have no one to help change the sheets or to just show they care.

After Joe died, I started investigating and found that in the larger cities AIDS wards were off-limits to ministers unless a person requested them by name. The reason? Ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ—the gospel of unconditional love—would go into the ward and tell these dying people that AIDS was a punishment by God for their sins.

My soul was vexed by these events. How could people who claim to know Jesus treat others this way? Jesus was radical as he embraced all who had a need without question. He told us to do the same. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus said:

 “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came and visited me.” Matthew 25: 35-36 

Over the next days, months and years, I pondered how we conservatives could remain within the rules that define our conservative approach, and yet be all those things that Jesus wants us to be. After all the church is simply a group of individuals who know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Jesus told us:

 “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” Mark 9:41

And You Invited Me In is about leaving our comfort zone to give a drink to the thirsty. When Jesus sent his disciples out, he gave a list of instructions for believers—among those were these words: freely you have received and freely you give (Matthew 10:8b). Grace was freely given to us when we accepted Jesus as our savior. Grace is given to each of us on a daily basis—and it’s our responsibility to people like Joe to show them Jesus through our actions, words and deeds.

Advertisements

2 Responses to "And You Invited Me In – The Blog"

Great post. I think it is extremely sad that we get so caught up in what is the ethical thing to do and when someone falls short we simply leave them be, high and dry. As if we don’t have the capability to show God’s loving, gracious hand in a time of great need and great pain. Thanks for sharing this story.

I really enjoyed reading “And You Invited Me In”. It sheds new light on how Christians should be treaing all human beings, with the love of Jesus instead of a judging each other. Once I started reading, it was hard to stop!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: