“…there was a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” And He stretched out His hand, and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Luke 5:12-13
I am very thankful that I can honestly say that Leah and I tend to agree on just about everything. I believe that is one way in which God has affirmed our union. Nevertheless, because of her interest in photography she is able to see the beauty and intrigue in things that to my eyes just look…ordinary. We can see the same thing and yet somehow view it differently.
There is a great deal of frustration and exasperation in our country due to the fact that large segments of the population view things very differently from other people groups. There is very real frustration because the issues at hand are very serious and seem elementary in terms of how one should see and respond. And yet, there is also a real experience of exasperation resulting from an intellectual stalemate, as a resolution to our different views seems more and more unlikely to occur. The question is: what, if anything, can we do to break through this cultural gridlock?
At the risk of oversimplifying, I wonder if the more shrewd question is: what can you do within your particular sphere of influence? How can YOU began to make the difference?
In the text above we find truly one of the most moving accounts in the earthly life of Jesus. Many different kinds of people approached Jesus. The man in Luke 5 was unique in the sense that he was a leper. To be diagnosed with leprosy was sort of a death sentence—physically and societally. An addition to the leper’s body wasting away in a manner too gruesome to describe, the person was made a social pariah and kept isolated from the rest of the community. Should anyone unwittingly venture near them, they were required by law to cover their mouths while yelling, “Unclean! Unclean!”
Now, I should be clear that the primary concern of this passage has to do with Jesus’ compassion towards sinners, which the sickness of leprosy symbolizes in that it was incurable and considered a curse. Nevertheless, I believe that the manner in which Jesus heals the man intends to instruct the Lord’s disciples in the way we are to engage those who are hurting—those who feel marginalized—those people within the reach of us whose life experiences and personal concerns may be very different from our own. Jesus could have healed this man in any number of ways. He chose, however, to reach out His hand and to touch a leper, demonstrating His full compassion and empathy for someone who was marred, yet made in the image of God.
We may not ever fully understand someone who was born a different ethnicity, who has had a very different experience, who sees things very different from us. And yet the compassion of our Lord and the teachings of the Scriptures compel and oblige us to reach out to them. We must seek to understand as best as we can. We must be willing to listen to the hearts of our brothers and sisters…, not so that we can quickly respond dismissively, but so that we can demonstrate that we care. The love of Christ constrains us to do so (2 Cor. 5:14). After all, we are that leper in need of a loving Savior to show love and compassion towards us who did not deserve it. Praise God He did not turn us away!
So…what can you do…today?
I find that the more I show interest in Leah’s passion of photography, the more I began to see something of what she sees. Don’t give up. There is hope!