The Untouchables

JESUS SPEAKING

            And it happened when he was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored him, saying, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean.”  Then he put out his hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.”  Immediately the leprosy left him.  And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded you” (Luke 5: 12-14.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

             Leprosy was a socially devastating disease; it rotted fingers, toes, eyes, ears and noses;  it maimed, disfigured, and hobbled it’s victims without killing them.  Lepers were feared and hated, not only for their hideous appearance, but because Leprosy was highly contagious.  Immediately upon contracting the disease, the victim was ostracized; they were no longer able to interact with family members and friends; no more shared meals; no more hugs; no more kisses; no more handshakes.  They were doomed to live in isolation outside of the towns and cities.  If they needed to travel near people, they were required to yell, “Unclean, Unclean,” so that people could avoid close contact with them (In some cultures they were required to wear bells to warn other people of their leprosy.)  A leprous man who had suffered the pains of being an outcast came to Jesus in desperation.  With a single touch, he was freed from his sickness.  Jesus immediately recognized the man’s desire to return to his family, so he commanded him to go to the priests for examination [In Jewish culture, the priests diagnosed social diseases.  When a person claimed that they were healed, they were required to go before the priests for examination.  If they were truly clean they would be allowed back in to the population; they would be able to return to their family and friends.]  God is not some cold and distant God.  He is a compassionate God.  He is concerned with our personal relationships.  He seeks to heal the sick.  He desires to reunite the outcasts with those they know and love.

             For the last two months while studying in the coffee shop, a man who appears to be no stranger to prison, has been sitting down right next me.  He plugs his phone charger in to the outlet I use.  He watches everyone very closely (a habit picked up in prison no doubt.)  One day, his pant leg was rolled up too high, and for an instant I caught sight of a tether fastened around his ankle (I wasn’t the only one keeping an eye on him.)  He elicits a feeling of uneasiness within me.  I feel like he is waiting for me to use the restroom so he can swipe something.  I’ve moved spots a couple of times and I’ve tried to avoid talking to him.  While I pondered what this scripture meant, he came in the door and sat down right next to me.  God spoke to my heart, and I realized that I was treating him like a leper; I was behaving as if he had some disease; the Spirit of God directed me to speak to him.  I introduced myself, and we talked for a bit about his situation; he had only been out of prison for two months, and no one wanted to rent him a room because of his criminal background; he has been living in his mother’s car, and can’t get work until he finds a place to live.  I was moved to share the love of Christ with him, and I invited him to attend a bible study in my home.  He seemed interested.  I told him his past did not matter to me, or to God.  In the eyes of the world, he was as leprous as the man Jesus healed, but with God he could be clean.  The Lord used me to reach out and touch a sick and hurting soul.  I was able to show him that there is a God who truly loves him.

             In this world, all around us, there are people who are treated like lepers:  drug addicts; criminals; the mentally ill; gang members; and the homeless (to name a few.)  The world has turned its back on many people, but God hasn’t; the outcasts of the world are His children too.  When you see someone no one else wants to talk too, bring them God’s message.  When you see those who are unloved, show them that God loves them.  Talk to the outcasts; eat with them; help them; care for them.  Don’t be afraid, but rejoice, knowing that God has chosen to use you to touch the lives of those He loves.

             “Lord heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask and pray that You would give us Your heart of compassion.  Use us to touch those who are untouchable.  Remove our fears and replace them with love.  Bring us opportunities to include and care for those who have been ostracized.  Give us more of Your Holy Spirit, that we can help to make the unclean, clean again.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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