We have to understand how much the love of Jesus shaped the life of Jesus. In Jesus day, perhaps no one was more untouchable than the lepers. Some have compared the lepers of Jesus day to the AIDS patients of today. The law was clear.
The person who has the leprous disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head be disheveled; and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, “Unclean, Unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.
In other words…DON’T TOUCH!
Can you imagine the thought of never again being touched? Never again to hug your son or daughter. Never again to walk hand in hand with your wife or play play basketball with the guys. When I was growing up…I used to think that the more holy…the more spiritual someone was the less approachable they became…But if you have been reading the gospels…as you make your way through the lifejournal, I hope you have seen that the more we live like Jesus, the more approachable we will become.
John Ortberg writes,
It is worth reflecting on this: Jesus was the most approachable human being that ever lived.
It wasn’t just the lepers. The religious leaders of Jesus day had a long list of untouchables. Lepers, gentiles, tax collectors, women, the uncircumcised, sinners of every size and shape. Judged and seperated. I have to say I understand the appeal. I have four kids. My eyes are not blind to what goes on in the schools, what is listened to on the radio, and spoken in the bathrooms. There is a protective part of me that wants to judge and separate. Quarantine and isolate. But there is also a passionate part of me, that has been touched, at least in part by a Jesus that wants to see people touched by God.
Read John 3:16-17 I love how Eugene Peterson translates it in The Message:
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
In other words Jesus said that he didn’t come into the world to point a finger, he came to extend a hand. Think about this in your own life; those you have judged…deemed untouchable. Do you often find yourself praying for them? Do you sincerely want what’s best for them? Do you find yourself looking for ways to serve them? Are you motivated by the example of Christ’s compassion? Have you shed tears for them? Because of them doesn’t count.. :)
This weekend we are talking about the fact that too often Christians are judgmental. We are looking at a story found in John 8. Here is the point I guess, or at least here is something to ponder. Judgmentalism — at least the kind that Jesus told us not to do — creates untouchables. But greater compassion makes it so difficult to be judgmental. Will we be known for our love… or our judgments?