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Jesus and Germs

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Very thoughtful message from this missionary.

Jesus and Germs

Never forget. Embrace the germs.

That counsel may stand in contrast to everything we’ve gone through the last fourteen months, so hear me out! For months, the world has masked up, isolated, socially distanced, and drenched itself in disinfectant.

My opening sentence is NOT making a stand or statement on any of those actions, nor am I saying ignore all health standards. Personally, I’d like to see everyone wash their hands before leaving the bathroom EVERY time.

But caution should never overtake compassion. There comes a moment when love overcomes fear, and we must pull close to people who need the feel the love of Christ.

In our first years of Moldova, Nancy and I were working with a church in a small village, coming alongside the pastor to help reach his community. He had built a relationship with a local orphanage, connecting with the children and staff. It was an old orphanage, residual from Soviet Union days, and far below modern standards. 

A team visited us and we did a program for the elementary-aged kids. After the program, we  spent time with the children, loving on them, some of whom hadn’t changed clothes for days. It was apparent that most were hungry for love from caring adults. 

As we left, I saw a couple of people quickly pull hand sanitizer out of their bags and lather themselves generously. And in that moment, I sensed the Lord say to me, “Don’t be too quick to clean off the dirt.”

As I got into the car to drive away, I decided to skip the sanitizer for that moment, and instead drove off with the smell and dirt and germs of the children still caking my hands. I felt something change in my heart—a willingness to disregard the “filth” that something separates us from deeply caring for a broken world.

If Jesus could reach out and touch a leper, I can hold hands in prayer with a prostituted woman.
If Jesus could call children to him, I can do the same, even if their clothes are stained and filthy and smelling of urine.
If Jesus can come to me in my sin and despair, I can sit with people in theirs.

That moment in a Moldovan village reordered some values around in my life. I learned that all people have value and all are welcome to the same care and concern. In the book of James, the Church is chastised for prioritizing the rich, giving them the best seat in the house. If we treat rich, powerful, or influential people preferentially, we are not loving the way Jesus loved.

I’m not perfect, but I am striving to treat everyone as Christ treated me. I want love and respect  to be stronger than my desire to stay in my personal comfort zone. It isn’t always easy, but I’ve dipped my fingers into a common bowl to eat with people from cultures vastly different than mine. I’ve drank from a common cup and lunched on strange foods because my host honored me. I have been offered tea from chipped cups made with questionable water. 

In a world that is deeply bruised by a pandemic, let us become the Church that runs to embrace all people, all races, all cultures, and all economic levels. Let’s be the Church that sits with the dying, cares for the lost, and treats all people with love and respect. I don’t have to agree with your lifestyle, but I will still share a meal with you. I may not agree with your politics, but I’ll still be your friend. And if you are a refugee or immigrant, there is a place at our table for you.

Let’s embrace the germs and be Jesus to a world that needs His arms wrapped around them.

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