Last week at our First Wednesday Service I spoke about this topic: Thanksliving. The main idea is that We often give thanks but not always live thanks. What would it look like to live thanks? This was the direction of the service and sermon. I’ll expand my thoughts here in this blog over the next week or so.
I know many people are setting up a daily “thankful” journal. This is a great practice! Even though the thought of Thanksgiving has expanded from a day to a month maybe, for many it will stop there. What would it be like to live a life of Thanksgiving…or to have thanksliving? To life out the rest of our days thankfully? I hope to challenge us all to do so from this series of studies.
I’m reminded of the epic story in the gospel of Luke, where the good old doc tells us of an interaction with Jesus and a leper. It’s found in Luke 17:11-19. I think it’s great to note that Luke was a doctor and therefore a story of someone being healed from this terrible disease really catches his attention. If anyone would be familiar with how someone with this painfully dreadful disease should and could respond, it would be Luke.
Just to clue you in a little on Leprosy. It is a skin disease that was often equated with sin and sinful behavior in the Old Testament and Jesus’ time. The stress and emotional toll on a person and family would most certainly surpass the physical pain. Those who were lepers were isolated from their families, friends, and fellowship of temple, banned from common interaction with the “healthy” people of society. Lepers would most identify with AIDS patients of our day.
Lepers were often covered in bandages and cloths to keep their open sores covered and to help prevent the spread of the disease. It was common for Lepers to lose toes, fingers, and noses to the disease fairly easily. Numbness of limbs and body parts would also be a major issue for a leper endure.
There are still about 6500 cases of Leprosy in the USA with about 141 countries still documenting cases. Even though it is fairly controlled in our culture, there are still thousands that suffer, especially in the Pacific Asian cultures.
Back to our story. Luke shares this insightful encounter of 10 Lepers and Jesus. Now that you understand a little more about Leprosy, does anything strike you about this encounter? The healing? The giving of thanks? Let’s begin to look at this passage and ask God to help us see how to develop an attitude of gratitude. May God help us to have a life of Thanksliving!
A Deliberate Visit
11 While traveling to Jerusalem, He passed between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He entered a village, 10 men with serious skin diseases met Him.
Jesus doesn’t do anything by accident. This was not a surprise visit for Him. Even though they were journeying, he most certainly was aware of where he was going. This was a deliberate visit to a leper colony or leper village. the story tells us there were 10 men there who were leprous. These men would not have been allowed in an ordinary village. They were outcasts and cast out of the normal village to live on their own with their own “kind”.
Have you ever made a deliberate visit to see someone who is not like you? To see someone who has no one that visits them? To share a little bit of Jesus’ love? For some this could mean a trip across the lunchroom to sit at a different table, to traveling across the ocean to minister to those who are dying in a foreign land. The point that I want to make here is that it has to be deliberate.
Sure there are times when our paths “just so happen” to cross over into an “unknown” territory, but that is really seldom. We seem to map out our lives by what is the fastest, safest, most efficient way to get to where we WANT to go. We avoid any path that may be dangerous, unknown and possibly life-altering, not-to-mention life-ending!
We really do care more about our status, reputation and health more than we want to admit. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should purposefully put ourselves in harm’s way but I am saying that often our “fear” is greater than reality. Often we are far more concerned about alleviating our own fears than being used of God to heal people’s hearts or souls. Many would deliberately stay away from someone rather than to deliberately attend to someone.
How about you?
In developing an attitude of gratitude, it is essential to remember that all we have, all we are is not because we are “better” than another but simply because of the sheer grace of God! Deliberately choosing to visit the needy, poor, homeless, sick, elderly etc. will help us all to become thankful for the material and immaterial blessings we enjoy. Having a conversation with someone from another culture, time period or background can enlighten us to all the things we take for granted.
If you really want to develop an attitude of gratitude start here: set up a deliberate visit somewhere. Ask God for a place or person to visit. Ask God to use that person, people group, subculture to speak to you about Himself. Don’t go to that group or person seeking to just be a blessing but rather go seeking to be healed yourself! Pride and ingratitude are much worse than leprosy!