Churches build these great ministries and put on outstanding programs, then fail in one critical area: they hide them inside the walls of their buildings.
Then a leper came to Him, and on his knees, begged Him: “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out HIs hand and touched him. “I am willing,” He told him. “Be made clean.” Immediately the disease left him, and he was healed.
Then He sternly warned him and sent him away at once, telling him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go and show yourself to the priest, and offer what Moses prescribed for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”
Yet he went out and began to proclaim it widely and to spread the news, with the result that Jesus could no longer enter a town openly. But He was out in deserted places, and they would come to Him from everywhere. (Mark 1:40-45)
I’m always struck by the incongruities–the oddities–in people’s behavior, particularly in biblical stories. Consider these unexpected aspects of our Lord’s encounter with the leper:
–The leper felt free to come to Jesus. The law specifically forbade that (Leviticus 13:45-46). Lepers were to shy away from others and to call out “unclean,” lest they be accidentally touched and therefore unclean.
–Jesus reached out and touched him. Our wonderful Lord did the unthinkable and touched the untouchable. As always, He was driven by compassion.
–Then, after the man was healed, the Lord told him to keep it to himself. These were the early days of the Lord’s ministry and the last thing He needed was crowds mobbing Him as a cult hero.
–The man disobeyed Jesus and told everyone he met. We can hardly blame him. I’ve sometimes felt half-seriously that the only unfair command our Lord ever gave was telling this fellow to keep the news to himself. Like he could! And like no one would notice.
Those are four strange aspects to this wonderful little story. But they suggest an even greater oddity about the Lord’s people today: Jesus told that man to be quiet, but he went out and told everyone he met. He tells us to tell the world and we go home and sit down.
We keep the most wonderful news in the world to ourselves.
Something bad wrong with that.
Even the finest Christian workers in today’s churches have a tendency to clam up rather than share their faith with the outside world. We love the Lord, we’ve been saved, we are grateful for His grace and power and mercy, and we love to worship Him and sing and talk about Him.
To one another.
What we are not doing is telling the world.
Continue reading →