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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.

For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. Matthew 7:2 (NLT)

One of the men I admire most was my uncle Bernard. Uncle Bernie was a quiet man with a generous heart. In all the years I knew him I never once heard him raise his voice or say a negative word about anyone. He was soft-spoken, gentle at heart and generous. He didn’t have a large house although he had money, his home was modestly comfortable. Uncle Bernie died in the same way he lived, quietly falling asleep as he listened to his favorite baseball team on the radio.

Uncle Bernie has been gone a long time but his testimony lives on in my mind because he was probably the most non-judgmental man I know, next to Jesus. I don’t remember enough about Bernie to know what made him tick; what it was that made him so accepting of other people, but that part doesn’t really matter. What matters is that he was a man who knew Jesus and showed Jesus love in how he treated others.

Jesus taught us not to judge others. He showed us acceptance of other lifestyles when he reached out to the woman caught red-handed having sex with another woman’s husband by telling her she wasn’t condemned, even though she deserved death.

He showed how to accept people when he made a point to stop at a well so he could meet up with a woman who’d failed five times at marriage and finally decided to ‘shack up’ with man number six rather than go through the whole marriage/divorce cycle. She was so ashamed she went to the well when she ‘knew’ she’d be alone. But Jesus met her at her most lonely time in the loneliest place because he accepted her even though he couldn’t tolerate her lifestyle.

If Jesus were here today I think he’d visit people you and I avoid like the plague. The person living the gay lifestyle would find a friend in Jesus. The imposter who lives behind a disguise of religion while they battle with drugs, alcohol or pornography would feel his touch. The abusive father or stepmother, the guy with at tendency for road rage, the vindictive gossip. All can find acceptance and healing when they come to Jesus.

Jesus doesn’t ask us to accept those different than us, he requires it. Through the power of his Holy Spirit I can find the strength to accept those who make a mockery of my faith. Because of his nail scarred hands I can find acceptance and healing in the midst of my struggle with sin. I want to be like him. I want to show his love like my uncle Bernie did.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I see in scripture how you have reached to others. I ask that you would do a work in my soul. Forgive me and heal me of the struggles I’m enduring. Empower me to live for you and to reach out to those around me. Help me to accept those who mistreat me, drag your name through the mud and mock your name. I pray this in your name, Amen.

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June 2023
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