Finding little treasures
WE ARE NOT OUR OWN
Rev. C.E. Carlson
Missionary, Church of the United Brethren
"What attracted me to Christianity," said an African pastor to me, "was seeing one of your missionaries, a person of different race and from another country, washing and dressing those awful ulcers which our people have and which we refuse to touch."
The man who knows himself to be reconciled to God through the death of Christ knows also that he is no longer his own, for he has been bought with a price. And to him there are no longer Europeans, Asiatics, Africans, South Sea Islanders - they are all men for whom Christ died. With that knowledge in his heart, and constrained by the love of Christ, only one thing remains for him to do: to find ways and means of acquainting men with the wonderful news that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not inputing their trespasses unto them." (II Cor. 5:20)
Doctrinal differences aside, his point is well-taken. He's speaking of the mission field, but every one of us who is a true Christian is a missionary wherever God has placed us. Ever since I've been a Christian I've been a bit troubled by our tendency to avoid our very own brothers and sisters in Christ who are sick, or even in deep emotional pain. I understand the desire to avoid getting sick oneself (and I'm not recommending taking your cough & raging fever with you to church on a Sunday morning to get comfort), but if we view our own brethren in the faith, who could really use our help and comfort as potential contagions and sources of discomfort to us, what does that say about us? One of the stories that impressed me most from the life of John Calvin was that when the plague visited his community and he was asked to leave, for his own safety, he refused, because the place of suffering was where he was most needed. Jesus touched the lepers, the unclean. We are his body. Let us be willing to do the same.