Saturday, March 01, 2008

Presbyterian Devotions: Troubling Ourselves

I’m going to an African-American church this Sunday afternoon to preach at a special service. Black prayer week begins on Sunday and this year the African American community is focusing on AIDS and its impact on their people. I’ve been invited as one of the preachers to give a message about how poorly the Church responded to AIDS sufferers in the 1980s & 1990s, and how that negatively impacted the credibility of the Church across the world.

Too many pastors and churches were too quick to pass judgment on HIV sufferers and AIDS victims. Instead of acting with compassion to those who were dying, we showed hostility and hatred which sadly is still evident in some congregations. We were too quick to say that God was punishing the gay community instead of using it as an opportunity to show the love and grace of Christ. We were too willing to create outcasts and lepers among those who were already on the margins of society.

Bible Verse of the Day
Joshua 7:25 Joshua said, "Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today."

The trouble that we created with our self-righteousness is hard to overcome. Instead of asking AIDS sufferers and victims to seek the Lord’s forgiveness, we have to seek their pardon of our foolishness. If the Church wants to regain credibility in the world, it will have to act humbly and show contrition to those we hurt and damaged. If we cast aside this opportunity to seek the grace of God in those we treated ungraciously, then the Church will never be healed of the brokenness that we caused.

One day the AIDS virus may be effectively cured, but will the Church still be the last victim of this disease?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive our arrogant and foolish ways when we become self-righteous and hypocritical. Enable us to see the trouble that we have caused to other people, other groups, and other communities across the world. Help us to seek their forgiveness and teach us lessons of humility, contrition, and grace. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
Stushie is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. He writes the daily devotions' blog called Heaven's Highway.

1 comment:

Doug Hagler said...

Thank you for writing this.