Offer More than "I Love You"

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Compassion is Connection
In Mark 1:40-44, we read a story of Jesus healing the man with leprosy, who was begging to be made clean. After touching and healing him, verses 43 and 44 tell us that Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Jesus does this so this man can be declared clean by the local priest and reenter society and community in ways that he wasn’t allowed to when he was afflicted by leprosy. Without this declaration by the priest, his leprosy would be gone, but his social isolation would remain. Jesus knew to truly heal him, this man needed to be able to connect to his family and community.  Connection to others is so important, and we are called to value it as much as Jesus did in this story when we are trying to reach out to the hurting and broken people placed in our paths. When you go out and touch someone, you're connecting them to a community. That's why just giving donations of money or items can be ineffective sometimes. That's crowd behavior; that's anonymous behavior. We want to be able to see them face to face and tell them about a church that loves them and a Lord who loves and honors them. Without making these connections, we’ve merely taken care of a moment, but this is about a movement. It is a movement where we're driving forward the love of Jesus by connecting people.
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Cleanness is Contagious
In Mark 1:40, we read the story of a man with leprosy approaching Jesus with a request to be healed from this ailment. This man’s faith to step out and ask Jesus to heal him was a brave and bold move during this time as it would have been illegal for a leper to approach anyone without leprosy since it was extremely contagious. But this man had to be bold if he wanted healing as there were no other options for him, because, as we see in the Bible, no one was cleansed of leprosy outside the direct intervention of God. So, this man is asking Jesus to do what only God can do, since every other rabbi literally would push lepers like him away. In verse 41, it says, “Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’”. The word indignant used to describe Jesus here means he was filled with compassion. And we see that Jesus doesn’t just feel compassion for this man, but he touches the man in order to heal him. Jesus didn’t have to touch him; he could have healed him without this step. That’s why this is so powerful!  When you touch someone, you actually see where Jesus is hiding in our culture. The people who need to be touched the most are oftentimes those that feel the most uncomfortable to approach. Sometimes it's a homeless person downtown. Sometimes it’s a single mom and sometimes it's an ex-con, but when you touch those people, you see Jesus in them for the first time. And that’s life transformation!