I’ll admit it: I’m a total germaphobe. It only got worse when I married a woman who was just as bad as I am! I unequivocally hate being sick. Now I know nobody actually enjoys being sick, but I absolutely loathe it. I work hard (and pray a lot!) at avoiding sickness and germs. If someone coughs coming towards me, I will head another direction. I’ll send sick people home from work. Whatever I can do, I do it. I want no part of being ill.
All of this might be okay and simply label me as quirky (or freakish), but it doesn’t play well in light of Jesus’ command to care for the sick (Matthew 25:31-46). It fares even worse when I try and model my life after Christ and I read the stories where He actually touched the sick people. He touched those who had serious infectious diseases. I don’t even want to be in the same room as someone with a simple cold. I am absolutely fine with giving money to organizations to care for the sick, but when it gets personal, I shamefully confess I am woefully inadequate. We all have our areas of weakness, and this is definitely one of mine.
When I hear of someone in need who is sick, I know I must go to them. I generally pray for protection from illness before meeting with them and trust that God will keep me healthy so I can continue to minister to both them and others. By the time I leave, I am generally calm and believe that God will bless my effort and keep me healthy. I also know that I may indeed get sick, and I really am okay with that thought; the sacrifice is worth the pain. I would rather get sick helping someone than be healthy but accomplishing nothing for the kingdom. Mentally, I am good with all of this. Truth be told, I haven’t been sick in almost two years, so I wonder if my newfound courage in approaching the sick is a result of that or a true change in my heart. I know the Lord is working on me in this area and I truly hope that I am growing.
The point of all this is to say that we can’t pick and choose our way through the commands of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46. The people He blesses and welcomes into His Kingdom are those who do all of these things. We can’t feed the hungry and ignore the sick. We can’t visit those in prison and turn a blind eye to the homeless. Following Jesus is an all or nothing deal, and we will all struggle with different elements of what it means to carry on the mission of Christ. God will surely stretch us in our areas of weakness and place opportunities before us where we must choose between our love for Him and our own selfish inhibitions. We need to encourage each other along the way, to pick up one who has fallen and walk with them through the trial. Ignoring an opportunity to serve Christ because it goes against our personality or lies beyond our comfort zone is not acceptable behavior for a follower of Jesus. We must allow our love for God to overshadow our fears and apprehension.
What parts of the mission cause you the most trouble? Where is God stretching you these days? Growth does not occur without stretching, so embrace the challenge and ask Jesus to give you the courage and the commitment to seize divine moments and reflect His love to another. We all have our weaknesses, but together we are stronger. Through Him we can overcome any challenge. It’s all or nothing; don’t waver in the face of discomfort or uncertainty. Pray for His grace that you might further His Kingdom and bring glory to His Name.