With the Oscars quickly approaching, I thought it would be appropriate to talk more about some of the films that have been nominated. Dallas Buyers Club was one of the few films this year that completely exceeded any expectations I had. I am not too familiar with the story behind the film but I was saddened to see some of the truths that were discussed in the film. One of those truths, I want to talk about briefly.
The film deals with the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 80s. I remember studying about it in school and just how much it took us off guard. Evangelical Christians, for the most part, separated themselves from those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. What we knew about the disease was that it was spread amongst homosexuals and drug addicts. Some evangelical Christians went so far as to say that it was punishment from God for the actions of the immoral. I won’t enter into that conversation.
But as I walked out of the film, tears were streaming down my face. Why? Not because it ended sadly. But because I realized, for the most part, not all sin carries the same consequences.
Think of it like this: What if a person tried drugs once? He/she uses a used needle and ends up contracting HIV/AIDS. One mistake leads to a shortened life. One mistake leads to a death sentence. It brought tears to my eyes. One person + one mistake = a death sentence. Compare that to a person who is addicted to drugs and never contract HIV/AIDS and you realize just how unfair life is.
Our sin doesn’t always carry such egregious consequences. A lie here and a lie there doesn’t necessarily mean we will die at a young age. A man can cheat on his wife for years and the affair can remain hidden until his deathbed. Guys can sleep around with as many girls as they want and never contract an STI. It’s just not fair.
The evangelical church has been notoriously known for stamping a red A on those guilty of certain sins. We ostracize and alienate them. We see the curve on their stomach and we talk behind their back. We hear of a medical condition and we keep our distance. We hear of an addiction and we “pray for them” in our small groups.
And then we wonder why women get abortions.
And then we wonder why people continue to sleep around with various partners.
And then we wonder why people continue to fall back into old addictions.
Could it be that we have responded in the exact opposite way as Christ would have? Is God’s heart breaking while our hearts are being hardened? Is God trying to speak life into their lives while we are speaking condemnation? Are we robbing them of the grace that God is giving?
Every day, I see countless sins in my life. Pride, lust, envy, worry, laziness, anger, jealousy, lies, and more. None of those sins have caused me to go to jail. None of those sins have caused me to be considered an outcast of the church. In fact, those sins are pathways for me to show others Jesus. I talk constantly about how God uses brokenness to show His Kingdom.
But for someone who has HIV/AIDS, it’s quite different. For a woman who got pregnant and had an abortion, it’s quite different. For someone who has track marks on his/her arms, it’s quite different. They are not worthy to receive the grace of God.
I ask forgiveness from those who have been alienated from the church for how we have ridiculed you. In reality, our sins are just as egregious as yours. We may deny leading a broken life, but we are liars.
How can we reconcile with those who we have outcast? How can we look at someone with HIV/AIDS because of a mistake with the same eyes as someone who lies to us constantly? How can we remove the log from our eyes before we remove the speck from someone else’s eyes?
The easy way would be for us to all have the same consequence for sin…which we do…it’s called death. Perhaps we can begin seeing how our “little white lie” is just as deadly as shooting up. Perhaps we can begin seeing how our arrogance is just as deadly as sleeping around with as many people as possible.
Where are you in this? Have you lived life thinking you were better because your sin didn’t carry with it the consequences as someone else? Have you thought that God loves you more because you never contracted HIV/AIDS?
We are all in need of the same grace from God. No matter what. Perhaps it’s time that we step down from the pedestal that we built and realize that truth. Perhaps it’s time that we stopped ostracizing people based upon consequences of their actions. Perhaps it’s time that we swallow the hard truth that our sin is just as egregious as someone else’s.
Perhaps it’s time that we see things as God sees them.
That’s what I got from Dallas Buyers Club. It was humbling. It was upsetting. It was revealing. And ultimately, it was used by God to show me the honest state of my life.