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On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:12-13

A friend is has been a nurse on the east coast for over 18 years. I have always admired her determination to serve mankind the way she does, but never more than after I heard her tell me her story of grace.

She had just come on duty and was looking over her case load. She noticed a new patient in room 406 (she still remembers the number). He was dying of aids and was openly gay. She, a believer, was opposed to and repulsed by that lifestyle. She finished checking her paper work and got up to make rounds. That’s when she noticed the light on for 406. She decided to go the other way.

For 45 minutes she played the game, ignoring the light, hoping someone else may see it and cover for her. It didn’t happen. Finally, she went in. The man had soiled himself and for nearly an hour was forced to sit in his own excrement. When she realized what she had done she was mortified. How could she do this to him? What kind of animal had she become? She helped clean him up and in the process found a new friend. A friend who turned out to be much more graceful and merciful than she.

That day changed her life. It didn’t change her theology or her sexual orientation. What it changed was her view of Jesus. In the days that followed it was as though Jesus was saying to her, every time she entered 406, this is me. I’m the one sitting in the bed. I’m the one you are ministering to. Six days later she wept as she held the hand of her new friend as he died. She wept at his passing harder than she’d wept for the hundreds who’d died on her watch before.

Jesus didn’t come to comfort the comfortable or encourage the successful. He didn’t come to cheer on the champion or strengthen the strong. Rather, he came for those who, for the third time this week ended up in a drunken stupor even though they promised themselves and their families they’d quit once and for all. He came for the adulteress who can’t leave a relationship they know is wrong and harmful. He came for the addict who promises he’ll quit after this ‘last high’.

It may be hard for some of us to accept, but if Jesus were to come back to earth today he would most likely NOT come to our churches on Sunday morning. He wouldn’t avoid them because they were/are ineffective. It’s just that he’d have other things to do. While we sit in our comfortable pews he’d be in a coffee shop sipping a latte’ with someone going through divorce. He’d be in a hospice somewhere holding a victim of aids, or comforting the parents of a fallen solder.

It’s not that he’d be opposed to the church-goer. He just has better things to do with his time. More pressing needs on his agenda. More sick people and sinners to bring back into relationship with his Father. If you are hurting today and have give up on this thing called Christianity, he’d seek you out and sit with you.

What about you? Who do you need to touch with your forgiveness today? Who needs to experience, first hand, the touch of grace and mercy from your hand? What body of pain is Jesus calling to you from? He didn’t come to comfort the comfortable.

PRAYER: My Jesus and lord. Forgive me for the callous attitude that I have towards those in pain. I’m mortified with the revelation of my own judgmental attitude. Empower me with the strength and compassion to reach out to those who need to experience your comfort through my touch. In your name, Amen.

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September 2022
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