Monday, April 23, 2012

Touch the Leper

I've been thinking a lot recently about social justice- oppressed people groups, equality, and all that jazz. It occurs to me that, as a Christian, it's my duty to show love to people, especially people who are marginalized and really need it.

This post is inspired at least a little by conversations I've had over the last few days, and by Keith Ganzer's sermon preached this morning at Emmaus Anglican Church.

In Jesus' day, people with leprosy had it really rough. They were outcast from society because of their condition- not only because it was contagious, but also because they believed it was caused by their sins. If you had leprosy, you had to walk around shouting "Unclean! Unclean!" so that people would know to keep their distance. You were literally as far removed and ostracised as you possibly could be.

When I try to think about what the modern equivalent of a leper would be- that is, a people group that is marginalized and gets a lot of hate- the first groups that come to mind are the homeless and the gay community. Too many people in the world have negative attitudes toward homeless people, and homosexuals get treated poorly all over the world (granted, less in recent years than before, but still more than they should)

Speaking on a more confessional, personal level, I think I've definitely been guilty of not showing enough love to these two groups- and maybe that's why I'm focusing on them tonight. I've always claimed to have compassion for the homeless, and yet I never make any effort to make them feel loved. I've always claimed to love homosexuals (because their sin is really no worse than mine) but I've never made an effort to reach out to them or support them in any way. I've been pretty lousy at showing love to these two groups, and Christ's example shows us that we need to reach out to the world's pariahs.

In Luke 5:13, Jesus "reaches out and touches" a man "full of leprosy" and heals him. Keith pointed out this morning that Jesus really didn't need to touch the leper to heal him. There's instances where He simply says the word and people are healed and get up and walk. Jesus touches the leper to show compassion and love to this poor outcast. He doesn't just heal the leper- he forgives him, and shows that by His actions! Similarly, we as Christians need to reach out and touch the marginalized people in our society!

In May and June, I will be living in community with a few other members of Emmaus Anglican Church- one of whom is currently homeless, and is super excited to be moving into an apartment with Christian roommates who can help support him in prayer and help him get back on track with things! This guy is super cool, and we've had a lot of good conversations, and yet I know that in my heart there's still some kind of barrier there, so I am excited to see how God uses this to grow me in my ability to feel compassion to people who are different from me, and to reach out to them in love!

All this being said, I'm pretty tired and have to be functional tomorrow- I am taking a three day trip to Ottawa this week, and have to cram 5 days of work into 2 days. Should be fun.


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