AIDS Day 2014

Mark 17:12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. 17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

I attended an amazing church service today in Singapore, a commemoration for World AIDS day 2014. The message of the experience shared by the HIV sufferers was “Why Me?”, and “Where is God?”, questions that we asked. How are we to walk with them! And God is still healing today through his saints bringing in cheap generic antivirols at cost so that lives may be saved.

The HIV issue is one created or amplified by oppression of gays where they have no rights to relationships, no right to love. Hence, they have to hide. It is not Love that Love Singapore brings, but death to many by condemnation and hate.

The discrimination against gays are very different from other social injustices. One can be poor, but it is not considered a sin to be poor unlike being gay. (Perhaps, it is a sin to be poor in Singapore due to the hgh cost of living).

The Ten lepers were under the heavy spirit of religious judgment. God seemed remote and merciless, not caring. It must have felt lonely, their dire circumstances sufficient for them to set aside the rivalry between Jews and Samaritan, for they even accepted a Samaritan in their midst.  Their sickness was their common predicament and struggle. The GLBT community is under a heavier religious judgment. They are not sick but yet under judgment for having a different inmate sexual orientation from the rest of society.

Their common judgment and condemnation is a picture of the religious persecution and suffering of GLBT people of Christian faith. We are the outcasts of the outcasts – separated from the community because we are Gay, and separated from the GLBT community because we are Christian, for Christianity has been the main persecutor of gays.

In the bible, our common identity in Christ unites us, despite the diversity we have. Therefore, there is no man or woman, Jew or Gentile, rich and poor, because we are all in a predicament, being sinners saved by God’s grace.

For the Ten lepers, they were virtually bearing the sin of a fallen world where sickness and pain prevailed. Life has been hard and merciless, full of judgment from people. When they saw Jesus whom they see as “master”, as a very great religious teacher, cried out “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us”.

Jesus was overly generous when He said that their faith had caused them to be healed! For it was Jesus who healed them, not their faith. But they had faith, faith to believe that Jesus can and will heal and took the risk of further condemnation and judgment to meet with Jesus. For if Jesus was so famous, surely, the rest of the villagers were there as well. So they risked extreme mocking!

And that is the risk of faith! To push in to see God, to push in to receive God’s mercy and grace where non was shown by religion. It was not their faith per say that healed them, but their faith in Jesus and that He was merciful. Do you have that God is a good God? In spite all that you have suffered.

When they were healed, Jesus asked them to see the priests, for they were still under the law. They could never be set free, unless their healing confirmed by religion. But Religion could not really healed them. Jesus did. Today, Jesus is both our healer and high priests. Jesus is both our merciful provider and advocate before God.

When the lepers got healed and quickly assimilated back into society and religion, ie allowed to enter the temple and worship God etc, they quickly forgotten Jesus who had healed them.

Only one returned, the Samaritan. Why? Because for the Jews, they had a right to healing under the Abrahamic Covenant and Jesus in ministering to them was standing under that covenant. They had a legal right to receive healing. For the Samaritan, they have no covenant with God, no obligation for God to heal him. Under religious laws, he was twice condemned, for being a leper and for being a Samaritan.

And Jesus said to the Samaritan “Your faith has made you well!”. Noticed that Jesus did no say thus to the remaining nine but only to the Samaritan. The Samaritan had faith, that Jesus would heal him although not part of the Jewish people! Ie the Samaritan didn’t deserve mercy nor healing. This is Grace, totally unmerited, totally undeserved. The nine thought that they deserved it under religion. The remaining one knew it was totally by grace and that was accounted to him as righteousness by faith.

Hence, the Samaritan was made whole, not only in body but in Spirit and Soul. For by faith, he had received God’s grace of salvation in his life.

There are very few GLBT churches and these churches have very low attendance as a percentage of Gay community despite often being the only affirming church in a large city where there might be two to three hundred thousand Christians. Those who attend are united by the common judgment by society of being gay.

As Gay Christians, do we like the lepers, come out of hiding, push passed the shocked villagers in order to meet Jesus! To seek for God’s grace and mercy, to see the goodness of God in the land of the living!

Gay Christians should not be an extension of NGO activism (for there are plenty of other well run secular civil rights and groups supporting the poor), or an avenue for gay rights standing up against the hierarchal religious faiths. Inclusivity and religious humanism should not be our god.

There is a call to push past society, to push past religion, to see Jesus. For, He is the only way to God, the truth and the life, and not religion nor her harsh condemning laws. We can’t forever give excuse to the religious faith as though they are about love. They are about laws and keeping them and seeing their own self-righteousness and works to reach God. But we are the Samaritan considered a sinner by birth.

Our final calling is not to prove the mundane and obvious that the bible does not condemn gays nor prove that gays are born as such from their mother’s womb, but our calling is go past the rhetorical condemnation of society and religion, to seek God’s mercy and grace in Jesus Christ.

We are to walk pass society and religion, for our focus is to receive God’s love, grace and mercy in Christ Jesus. For the Samaritan had the greatest faith, because he knew it was totally underserved, unmerited and uncalled for. It was all of Jesus, all of grace.

Surely, Gay Christians or GLBT churches have a destiny and calling beyond a platform for fringe queer theology listened by a few or a call center for the suicidal, important as it may be. The ultimate calling of a Gay Christian church and Gay Christians is to make a highway in the wilderness that the GLBT community may see that Jesus is good and had mercy on them. In this AIDS day, we walk with those who are suffering and in pain, together in this highway of God love, grace and mercy in the middle of the desert where there is little food nor water.





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