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“How might the Bible shape my response to people with AIDS?”—John
Basically, two perspectives appear in Scripture. In the ancient Hebrew texts, you will find that God apparently used plague more than once as a means of judgment on those who were in rebellion against Him (Num. 16:41-50; Deut. 28:58ff.) From this observation, you may conclude that AIDS sufferers are being punished by God and thus should be ostracized, even condemned. The close association of AIDS and the homosexual community has made this a quick and ready conclusion for many people over the last 30 years.
The second perspective looks at Jesus as the model. He did not seem to question the source or cause of disease — He simply healed. His heart went out to the sick, the lonely, the fearful and the dying.
In His day, lepers suffered from a dreadful disease for which there was no cure. They were outcasts of society. Unlike His neighbors, He did not fear the diseased person. He did not despise the individual who was so sick or worry about being contaminated. Without hesitation, He looked into the eyes of the leper, saw the broken person who was inside, touched him and made him whole.
So what do we do with these two seemingly disparate perspectives? First, we do not assume that God takes lightly the rebellious heart nor do we categorically assume that disease is never a warning or a judgment on illicit behavior (Rom. 1:27.) Suffering often points us beyond ourselves in a quest to seek God.
Second, any who follow Christ will offer the same care and concern He did — no discrimination, no hesitation (Mt. 10:8; 11:5.) They will also understand that complete healing involves the spirit as much as it does the physical disease (Mt. 9:22; Lk. 17:11-19; 18:42.).
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