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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…
- 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: