AIDS Evangelism

The AIDS virus gets a pretty bad rap, and for good reason. It’s not something I would wish for a friend, or even an enemy for that matter. But maybe it is something I would wish for the church.

According to wikipedia, AIDS went from virtually zero to 68.2 million people in less than half of one lifetime (30 years). I couldn’t find any consistent figures for the growth rates of Christianity or Islam over that period, but on a percentage increase basis, I’m pretty sure AIDS beats religion when it comes to evangelism skills. Why is that? I’m not an expert, but here are some of my best guesses:

  1. People actually like having sex. I realize there are several ways in which the AIDS virus can be transmitted, but this is probably the big one. On the other hand, being “evangelized” probably isn’t at the top of the list of things I’d enjoy doing on a rainy day. Even when you throw in some flashy rock music and a free t-shirt.
  2. Reckless Behavior Spreads AIDS. If “safe sex” helps contain the virus, then it follows that those who don’t count the cost are more likely to get it. Maybe instead of focusing so much on things like safety and security in our churches, we should be throwing caution to the wind. Jesus was pretty promiscuous when it came to who he associated with, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t run a background check on any of the disciples.
  3. There’s No Cure For AIDS. No matter how many drug cocktails we throw at it, AIDS just gets tougher and smarter and doesn’t give up. It’s a mystery that baffles our greatest medical minds. AIDS doesn’t complain about a changing culture. It just adapts.
  4. AIDS Weakens Immune Systems. It breaks down barriers. In a culture where we barricade ourselves with multiple layers of isolation and insulation from the sickness and suffering of the world around us, it takes something pervasive to infect us. And when it does…
  5. It Eventually Kills You. Ok, so I know this sounds like a bad thing. But then I remember all of our Christianese talk about “dying to one’s self” in order to be born again, being “Crucified with Christ,” and “laying down one’s life” to find it again. Is it possible that the Church needs to die in order to become the Kingdom?

We (the church in the US) are living on some pretty expensive cocktails right now, so it might be awhile before we find out the answer to that last one. But since we’re probably also denying the same drugs to those in other countries with just as much need, perhaps they can let us know when they enter the Kingdom ahead of us…

Other “Metaphors” in this series:

  1. Beer Church
  2. Fat Church
  3. Masturbation Church
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6 Responses to AIDS Evangelism

  1. Dannah says:

    The Church did die. 2000 years ago. And the church is comprised of your friends, and your enemies. And I’m sure a bunch of people in the “church” worldwide already have AIDS anyway. Aids doesn’t break down barriers, I think it creates more really. Maybe we could learn to be less like AIDS, or any virus, and quit trying to spread ourselves and concentrate on making ourselves useful. It’s not wrong for us to take our expensive cocktail, if we then appreciate the prosperity and in turn use our life for good.

  2. Neal Locke says:

    Touche, Dannah. My mistake (focusing on evangelism for the sake of evangelism) is probably just as bad. I repent. But not on the expensive cocktail part of the analogy. I still think it’s wrong for us to take the cocktail and then just “appreciate” how lucky we are without fighting real hard for those who are less fortunate. Actually, even though I don’t know if I could live up to this, I think I know what Jesus would do: He might give the cocktail to someone else first, at the expense of his own life. Imagine if every AIDS victim in wealthy America made that kind of commitment (totally unrealistic, I know) — that they would give their life-sustaining drugs to someone who couldn’t afford them, even if it meant dying. If that happened, I’m pretty sure not only they, but their families, friends, and congressmen would all come up with the money and the resources pretty quickly to provide adequate medication for people in developing countries. That or burn down the #$%#$% bastard drug companies who won’t allow the manufacture of generic drugs because it would cut into their profit margin…

  3. Dannah says:

    Maybe. I’d take it though. But I’m human, not God. And I tend to think that there’s probably enough to go around. It’s also not like a bunch of us have an easy time getting the cocktail, just because we’re here. Easier than some, yes, but it’s not a given. It’s not cheap to be sick, even in America.

    So, If I, in theory, take the cocktail, and live, but someone else across the world from me dies because they don’t have it, it was wrong for me to take it? Or, it’s o.k. if I turn and fight real hard for someone to get the exact same thing I got, when I am meant to be of service elsewhere? What if it is my purpose to be here? And be home with my family?

    It’s kind of like you’re saying you and your family should give up your home and let another family move in. Then the same amount of people are out of a home. It solves nothing. But you can donate time or money to the plight of the homeless. But not if you’re dead because you didn’t accept the expensive cocktail.

    I don’t think I wouldn’t have a responsibility but it’s completely idealistic and oversimplifying things to say a person should automatically lay down their life so someone else can live. I’m not really convinced that’s necessary. You might be saving a life, or not, but it’s not up to us to sacrifice ourselves.

    If you burn down the drug companies then no one would get it and everyone would die.

  4. Dannah says:

    Thanks, Neal. I am totally entertained!

  5. Neal Locke says:

    Ok, first of all, “burning down the drug companies” was metaphorical for “shutting down their crappy, profit-driven, heartless practices.” But I can see where I wasn’t so obvious on that one.

    And second of all, the act of laying down one’s life isn’t just for the purpose of dying. Martyrdom (intentional or not) almost always draws attention to a cause that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.

    You’re right that if I give up my house to someone else, there’s still the same number of homeless people in the world. But if I give up my house, people are more likely to take notice. The current homeless person is practically invisible to society.

    Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King were all great at “street theater” or making a scene. It’s something that goes all the way back to the Old Testament Prophets (read Amos, Ezekiel, and Hosea especially). So back to my point, a bunch of rich (comparatively, of course) Americans refusing to take AIDS drugs is going to attract way more attention than a bunch of people in some other country who never had access to them to begin with.

    That’s the point I was trying to make. It’s the kind of thing Jesus was very good at doing. Honestly, I doubt I could do something like that. But it’s definitely something I aspire to.

  6. Dannah says:

    I guess it goes back to the fasting thing. You can fast and keep it to yourself or do it so everyone will notice. Or give with your left hand… I think people see these problems and then chose how to react to them. I can’t imagine that everyone hasn’t heard AIDS crisis or homelessness, etc. some will help and some won’t.

    I just think that it would be of more value to keep your house (or your life) and join up with a group that is doing something about homelessness(or aids, or another cause all together). Then you can help again and again. People might notice you giving up your home but will they change because of it? And wouldn’t a movement of some sort be more visible than one person? Unless you are a prophet or or someone that can draw a following like Jesus, Ghandi, or Martin Luther King. 😉

    And I didn’t think you were talking about really burning up the drug companies.

    And, I won’t take this analogy any further!

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