Monday, July 26, 2010

Are you uncomfortable?

Yesterday's sermon was preached out of Matthew 8 relating to Jesus' authority. But like most Sundays, the subject in the foreground was overtaken by my wheels turning in the background. I couldn't stop thinking about the leper at the beginning of the chapter. If you've ever heard a sermon involving one of the many lepers Jesus encountered, no doubt the minister spent some time describing the situation: how leprosy was very contagious and spread via touch, so the leper had to stay out of town and announce his presence to anyone who approached. You've also likely heard that a leper is ceremonially unclean, so Jesus' healing touch carried additional weight.

Now put yourself in the leper's shoes (or sandals). You are outcast from the rest of society. You have to humiliate yourself if anyone even walks by so that everyone knows your condition. And worst of all, you are unclean, unable to participate in the religion of your forefathers. There are several ways you could react, but I think of two extremes. On one end you could be malicious, not caring about the health (spiritual and physical) of others and intermingle with the community as you spread your disease to unwitting victims. On the other end, you willingly accept your fate and you take seriously the severity of your affliction. You shout "Unclean! Unclean!" to every passer-by, not because you're supposed to, but because you genuinely care about that person's health- spiritual and physical. But you cannot avoid feeling humiliated. You cannot avoid feeling uncomfortable.

Last week, Sarah Salter returned from a missions trip to Sudan (no, I'm not calling her a leper!). Recently Duane Scott described one of his experiences as a missionary in Ghana. Me? I've been to Wal-Mart after 10pm. Seriously though, I've never made myself uncomfortable for the sake of the physical and spiritual health of another to the same extent as a missionary. Not saying that missionaries are some sort of uber-Christian, rather that God leads each of us uniquely to places where we are uncomfortable for His sake. Which leads me to my question of the week:

Where has God led you that you have been most uncomfortable for the sake of another?

And did you follow because you were supposed to, or because you sincerely cared about the needs being met?


Fatha Frank said...

For me, the most uncomfortable would have been the time a friend and I were organized a Thanksgiving dinner with and for a local Cocaine Anonymous group. Sharing a meal with people whom I did not feel comfortable around on a day I would have preferred to spend with family and friends. I look back at that experience as being young and naive, but desire to recapture the essence of what we were trying to do that day- meet a need to "lepers" in my community.

Michael said...

We recently made sack lunches and drove around the city feeding the homeless. We did this as a family and it was uncomfortable because of the things we saw.

Fatha Frank said...

Michael, very awesome! I was just talking with someone about that very thing- but it was cheeseburgers from McDonalds.

Duane Scott said...

Thanks for the mention, Frank.

Like I wrote recently in a blog post, Life turns on small decisions.

You can make that decision to be uncomfortable. Just a small decision and life happens. And you'll fall in love with helping and after a while, it isn't uncomfortable anymore.

I appreciated these thoughts.

jasonS said...

I've been uncomfortable in other countries, but in reality, the most uncomfortable I've been for the sake of others was in becoming a pastor. So many times, I feel unqualified (or at least under-qualified) to lead or do what I do, but I know I'm exactly where God has for me to be.

He has to remind me quite a bit and this post helped me to remember once again so thank you.

Fatha Frank said...

@Duane, you're right, all it takes is one decision. I'm encouraged by your attitude- the more you do it, the comfortable you become. It becomes natural.

@Jason, it's funny how Satan always tries to convince us we're not good enough. He tempted Jesus the same way and you see how that turned out!