The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;
their feet are caught in the net they have hidden. Psalm 9:15
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” John 4: 25& 26
Back in the mid 1980s the verse above from Psalm 9 and others like it were quoted to “prove” that AIDS sufferers deserved what they got. I have to confess that, at the time, the thought crossed my mind too. In our family the AIDS crisis came to a head when doctors didn’t want to give my wife and baby a blood transfusion during the premature birth of one of our daughters, as they couldn’t trust the blood supply.
In the midst of this crisis in the mid 80s I was asked to visit a couple’s son who was in his mid 40s and suffered from AIDS. With my recent blood transfusion experience I wasn’t feeling any grace towards AIDS sufferers. However, we have a providential God. On the morning of my first visit I read John 4 as part of my daily devotions, which relates the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. Jesus treats this outcast with firm grace: not accepting the sin but loving the sinner and offering her life. During my one hour journey this passage, like an indigestible meal, would not leave me alone. The Word was confronting.
When I arrived at “Michael’s” home, he shook my hand, welcomed me in, offered me a a coffee and then told me a tragic story of family and marital breakdown, losing his children and finding companionship in the homosexual community of the town. This was a “feeling”, he confessed, that he had always been drawn to but had never, previously, given in to. This community, incidentally, took care of each other with an amazing love and grace. I witnessed this on many future occasions. At one point, Michael said to me, knowing that he had a death sentence, that even knowing that he was going to die, if he could live his life again he would be drawn back into this lifestyle – that draw was so strong.
What I encountered was a struggle with sin. But we all struggle with sin. The only difference is that we minimise our own and maximise others – especially sexual sins. For example if our weakness is greed, we prefer to judge people on their sexual behaviour. If our weakness is gossip then the sexual promiscuity of the other is far worse.
Psalm 9 reminds us that all sin is deadly – eternally. It is only with a relationship with God that an adulterous murderer like David could be confident in his salvation. In himself David could not find redemption . He could only rely on the promises of God – the promise of a Messiah – a Saviour. That same Saviour is our only hope – no matter what our sinful condition might be.
On leaving Michael that first time, I asked him why he had been so open with me; never having met me before. He answered, “You shook my hand, came in and drank my coffee.” In the paranoia of the mid 80s that had been his test to see if he could trust me. I had never thought of that. But God had.
P.S. Michael died a few years later having returned to a relationship with Christ.