Summary: This week we are going to look at a hugely important issue that God has laid on my heart: AIDS. We’ll look at this crisis that the church is facing and some ways to respond.

It’s an Epidemic

Matthew 4:23-25

August 10, 2008

A man asked his friend, “What color are your pastor’s eyes?” He answered, “I don’t know. When he prays He closes his eyes and when he preaches I close mine.”

As many of you know, we’ve examining some important issues for our congregation. This week we are going to look at a hugely important issue that God has laid on my heart: AIDS. Unfortunately this week there is, well, some bad news. There is an epidemic raging. Millions are suffering and dying from it. And well the really bad news is that the church, the people of God, has responded abysmally to it. Of course it is the AIDS epidemic.

Now wait a minute, though. Don’t tune me out just yet. I know its tempting but hang with me.

A man would come home every night from work, only to be hit with the day’s calamities by his wife. One night he said to her, “‘Honey, before you hit me with everything that has gone wrong, would you at least let me sit down and enjoy a good night’s meal’? The next night, as soon as he came through the door his wife said to him, ‘Honey, hurry up and eat, I have something terrible to tell you.’”

Yes, there is bad news but this should not be depressing because we have the ultimate good news. We read from Matthew 4 earlier. Jesus came announcing the good news that a new way of living had come. He told people that they should be looking to God not the government, not Caesar, not even their religious leaders to help them but look to God and to live out God’s ways. To show them the blessing of the kingdom that leads to life, he healed hundreds if not thousands of people.

Jesus told them how God desires us to be whole people. He touched them and healed them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Now let me ask you this, do you think that they got sick again? Sure. Maybe not with their original ailment. But certainly they got sick and you know what else they died. Because this body has been corrupted. But one day when Jesus comes again all will be set right and we will be resurrected just as Jesus was resurrected and we will finally show the glory of God in the way that we were meant too.

So in the meantime, this means showing people God’s love. It means helping them as they suffer for we do suffer in this life, in this decaying world, that needs to be made new. It means that we have a sure and certain hope that the suffering and then death in this life is not the final answer. Death does not have the last say. So we are called to pray for others. We are called to minister to the least of these. We are called to share and show the love of Christ.

Now I have three hopes from this sermon.

Three Hopes

1. We will pray more fervently for people with AIDS.

2. We will seek to be more informed.

So often we ignore these issues not because we are uncaring but because we are so bewildered. We hear so many different stories and we so many contradictions and the problems seem so huge that we sort of give up. We give in to apathy. This, I’m convinced, is what the enemy wants for us more than anything else.

I want to show you a video. This video pokes fun at us. It exaggerates what really is a serious concern. It exaggerates so that maybe we might laugh at ourselves while we decide to do better.

[Show ]

3. We will encourage those among us who are called to be deeper commitment.

I don’t think all of us here will be convicted to more to a deeper level but maybe a few of us. Sometimes we have a danger when God impassions our hearts with an issue, or ministry, or concern that everyone will feel the same. This often happens when people go a on a mission trip or work camp. I have to watch myself and be careful about being frustrated when not everyone responds to issues like homelessness and AIDS in the same level of intensity. We all need to remember to not get frustrated over another person’s lack of excitement for an issue but also remember that it is okay to be frustrated and call people who claim to follow Jesus on the carpet that seem to have no passions or commitments.

I believe that maybe some of us or maybe just one of us might be called to go a little deeper into this issue and work a little harder, and do a little more, and be involved in a deeper way. We all then need to encourage one another to find those areas that God impassions us for and encourage one another to pursue those areas with fire, power, and conviction!

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