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Some of us are unsure of God’s full acceptance. We suspect he’s disappointed with our best efforts. We live with low-grade guilt, feeling like we’ve never really pleased him — that he’d always like to see us doing a bit better.
Perhaps we’re equally uncertain about full acceptance from God’s people. A secret sin or silent struggle convinces us that if others knew, they’d despise us. In sin or weakness, we’ve pulled away from church, finding it ever more difficult to return. We’re isolated by fear and feelings of inadequacy.
Margins - Nearer - God - People - Grace
For all those living on the margins, longing to draw nearer to God and his people but uncertain how, there’s sweet grace to savor in a story of Jesus’s encounter with a man on the margins.
When Luke tells the story, he begins with a terrible problem: “While [Jesus] was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy” (Luke 5:12). He was “full” of a dreaded disease. According to Leviticus 13:45, lepers were to tear their clothes, let their hair hang loose, and cover their upper lip or mustache. These were typically the actions of mourners at funerals.
Lepers - Mourners - Condition - Kind - Living
Lepers were instructed to act like funeral mourners because they were mourning their own condition, which was a kind of living death. Ritually unclean, they were required to stay outside the camp, cut off from the community and from God’s holy presence in the tabernacle.
Our modern individualistic ideals may romanticize living in splendid isolation. Not so in ancient Israel. Life to the full was lived in the community of God’s people gathered around God’s presence in the tabernacle. Being cut off from that was like a living death. The leprous man who came to Jesus couldn’t have physical contact with others, because doing so would make them unclean. Can you imagine the...
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