This past week I was reading through Matthew. I spend lots of time there. I really believe it gives us one of the best pictures of Jesus and His love of people. I found myself hung on a passage in Matthew 8 where Jesus heals the leper. To me it is a powerful reminder of how we need to love people....
Take a minute, click here and read Matthew 8:1-4
I love this story. There are some profound things that happen here. A sick, broken, hurting and rejected man made a point to get to Jesus. We often forget that during this time if a leper did this it might cost him his life. It was a violation of social and religious laws! But he did it anyway. Then, Jesus stopped to pay attention and listen to him. I love that Jesus listened and heard him! But even greater is that Jesus physically touched him. Jesus broke a social and religious law to make sure the man knew he was valued, loved and cared for! As a result the man was healed. Jesus was in tune with the needs of the sick, broken and hurting. He cared enough to listen, to make contact and meet the needs even when it was uncomfortable our socially unacceptable!
How often do we find people coming into our churches who are sick, broken and hurting? Or do we even notice? They are going where they are least comfortable and accepted. While it may not cost them their life, they are not generally welcome because they often look, sound and act different than church people. This past week I had a waitress in a pub in Atlanta tell me she would not go to church because her tattoos caused church people treat her poorly; and they would tell her she was condemned! A sad indictment on the church if you ask me. No doubt the leper Jesus healed looked, sounded and even acted different than the religious people. But, it didn't stop Him! How often do we avoid listening to the needs of sick, broken and hurting people because it may require time and attention that we are too selfish to offer? How often are we afraid to be seen interacting with these people because it may affect us socially? How often do we avoid contact with them because we are afraid it might contaminate our lives? These people are in desderate need...Their lives may be at risk like the leper...But we won't leave our comfort zone to show them love!
If we are going to call ourselves followers of Jesus, then we need start living like Him. We need to get out of our comfort zone and out of our concern of what others think. It's time to start meeting people where they are and showing them love, care and acceptance. We need to stop broadcasting all of our opinions and begin listening to their needs. When we start doing that, we get the chance to lead people to discovering life in Jesus!
Jesus said that the world will know us by our love (John 13:35).
Are you known by your love...or are you known by your comfort zone?