I was once asked if the ultimate purpose of my work was not to “inspire people to stay HIV free?”
Although I can see the nobleness in the question and how it aligns with the UNAIDS’ call to aim for zero new infections, I had to say “No. This is not my ultimate goal.”
I do believe that we all have a responsibility to prevent new infections, but I do not think that the ultimate goal in life is to be either HIV positive or negative. Also, what would such a message mean to the millions of people who are already living with HIV?
We are in the first place human beings, created in the image of God. Jesus sacrificed his life to reunite us with God. Through Him we can share in the glory and the kingdom of God – on earth as it is in heaven.
In Mark 8:27-38 we are reminded again of the price Jesus paid for our salvation. In verse 31 he begins preparing his disciples for the “terrible things he would suffer” (Living New Testament) leading up to his death.
But what Jesus said, was too hard to comprehend. It was the complete opposite of their expectation of Christ, the Anointed one. When Peter took Jesus “by the hand and let Him aside … to rebuke Him” (v 32 The Amplified New Testament), he was probably just giving voice to what all the disciples were feeling in their hearts: “Surely Rabbi, this cannot be. Did we not just tell you (v 29) that we are convinced you are the Christ?”
However, Jesus reminds Peter (and us): “You are looking at this from a human point of view and not from God’s” (v 33 LNT).
Don’t we still often look at and seek God through the lens of our own expectations of Him?
I can still recall my shock and utter surprise when I heard a devoted HIV positive Muslim woman say: “Today … I thank God for my HIV …”
“Surely, God,” I protested, “this cannot be? How can one thank you for the ‘gift’ of HIV?”
We are reminded that God’s kingdom and the route thereto might be different from what we expect. Even our spiritual leaders and our “Peters” might get it wrong. They could even stand in the way of the fulfilment of God’s kingdom.
“If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for My sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live” (v 35 LNT).
What it means to really live might be severely influenced by my HIV status. Ultimately, however, true living depends on whether I walk with Christ or not.
“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead … Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how” (v 34 The Message).
To think about or discuss: What does true life mean for some-one suffering from HIV?
Written By: Aneleh Fourie-Le Roux, Cabsa manager