I am lying on the floor of the living room, on a blanket that is on a sheet that is on a rug. Such are the precautions you take when your 3-year-old has the stomach flu. I am spooned up against his feverishly warm back, but not too close: “You’re making me hot, Mommy.”
I have prayed to stay well—stomach bugs and pregnancy don’t get along. I have washed my hands and taken vitamins. But I cannot help snuggling right down with him, skin to skin. At night, his hot breath, smelling of children’s Tylenol and sour apples, goes right to my face.
This is where you are when you are a mother. (Click to Tweet!) And as I am here, I think of how this is also where we are to be as Christians. Yet it is the place we avoid most.
We think of those who don’t know Jesus as sick. Afraid to catch it and become part of the outer camp of the unclean, we shout words from a distance. We write articles and make picket signs and post Tweets. We stay in our churches and pray for those just outside. We are too busy for the time it would take to go where they are, too important to stoop down to the living room floor on a blanket that we think might be dirty. We are afraid of fever, of sickness by association.
We forget that we, ourselves, are sick.
We have been more than sick, we have been dead, and if we are alive, it is only because of Jesus. It is because he was not afraid to come down to earth, to shed the glory of God and walk among the sick, the dead. He touched the lepers, the bleeding woman. He drew shapes in the dirt to take judging eyes off a half-naked woman caught in adultery.
He went where we would not, where we do not. (Click to Tweet!)
He, though very God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but took on the nature of a servant. While we, those alive only because of his touch, put on hazmat suits and build quarantine camps. We talk about the sick, as though we were not once dead. As though being made alive means we are now perfectly healthy.
When we refuse to meet people where they are, to climb into situations that might stretch us, to let our lives touch the lives of others, we are not sharing gospel love. We are sending this message: You are sick (and I am not). You need help (and I do not). You need to clean yourself up, get rid of that fever and then you can come up here and talk (because I couldn’t possibly expose myself to your life as is).
And because we represent Jesus, people might think that this distancing and condescending message comes from him. They might not ever hear of the way he ate with tax collectors and “sinners” and let a woman with a reputation anoint him with her tears. They won’t hear of this Jesus, because they will not see us living out that kind of love.
So as I snuggle here with my son, burning with fever, I know that the worst thing wouldn’t be to catch something myself. The worst thing would be to miss this opportunity to show him real love. (Click to Tweet!)
This post originally appeared a few years ago on Prodigal, a site I loved that has recently transformed, taking posts with it. I wrote it when Linc was a wee one, and the sentiment still holds true.