The other day I took one of the children to the pediatrician for a check-up. The nurse is doing her thing- blood pressure, height, weight; and then she asks me, "has she been exposed to a nursing home, homeless shelter, or anyone living in a correctional facility?".
The presumed and hoped for answer here, is "NO!". Any good mother knows that these types of settings are at best unhealthy environments, and at worst, downright dangerous.
But aren't these the very places Jesus calls us to go?
Jesus tells us that when we host a dinner party, to run out to the streets and alleys; invite the poor, crippled, blind and lame (Luke 14:21). Jesus came to release prisoners from darkness (Isaiah 61:1). Jesus invites us to care for the widow countless times throughout the scriptures.
Jesus scandalized his contemporaries by hanging out with prostitutes and the demon-possessed.
When questioned by the Pharisees why He ate with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus replied, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."
Jesus' compassion extends to the despised and neglected. We are his hands and feet in the world today.
Do you think Jesus cringed before he took the hand of the homeless beggar? Did He keep hand sanitizer in his cloak pocket? Or, could He look past the grime, the lice, and the tattoos, seeing right to the heart?
If we let germs and bad smells keep us away from the people Jesus loves, we can't do His work.