Yet so often people feel like outsiders. Perhaps their personalities warrant them odd. Perhaps they have a sickness or disability that others don't understand or are even fearful of, so they avoid contact or interaction. Perhaps they've made mistakes and are isolated by shame.
No matter the reason, they are alone YET long to belong.
Jesus cares about this.
He longs for people to belong.
I love the story in Matthew 8:1-4 & Luke 5:12-16 where Jesus heals the man with leprosy. There is so much to glean about Jesus, His ministry, and how He cares for people in this story. But I'd like to focus on the end of the story. Jesus heals the man of this debilitating and incurable (at the time) disease and he then instructs the man to do something, "Go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
To understand what Jesus was doing with this request we must understand Jewish Law at the time. Under Mosaic Law, anyone with even one spot of leprosy was declared ceremonially unclean. Anyone who touched the leper became unclean also. Thus, lepers were not permitted to remain inside walled cities. To be a leper was to no longer belong.
The Law also provided that if and when a person recovered from sickness, or in this man's case was cured, he must go to the priest who would examine him and pronounce him ceremonially clean again. This proof, or ritual certification of cleansing, would allow the man to be reinstated into society.
Jesus not only cared about the man's physical disease, He also cared that the man belonged again. He encouraged the man to do what was necessary according to the Law so that he could enter inside the city walls again and be reinstated as an integral part of his community.
Doesn't it warm your heart to read that Jesus deeply cared that this man belonged again?
I can remember feeling a bit like a leper during my Acne episode
this past year. I very much felt like an outsider. Honestly it was the first time in my life that I felt like I was on the outside, looking in. While my family never pronounced me "unclean!" nor did my community throw me outside the city walls, I did FEEL "unclean" and I absolutely felt like I didn't belong. It's honestly hard to explain how I felt. Nonetheless, it was a lonely place.
Yet this story reminds us all that Jesus understands our need to belong.
The truth is, He came to this earth and died for our sins so that we could belong in His heavenly family. And whether we believe it or not, to belong in His family is to be an integral member who is forever loved and always cherished. When we belong to Him no "odd" personality, sickness, disability, or shame can condemn us outside of His city walls. When we come to know Jesus, we are made clean, reinstated into His family, cherished and loved, and deemed integral!
Do you worry your children will feel like outsiders in this world?
Do you worry they won't feel as though they belong?
Spiritually speaking, as followers of Jesus none of us truly belong to this world. Nonetheless, I believe the story of the leper shows us just how much Jesus understands our need to belong here on this earth. We do need a community of people who love and cherish us, with whom we play an integral part.
So let's take some time today and pray that our children first and foremost choose to belong to the family of Christ, but also that Jesus tenderly provides a loving community in this world to belong to as well.
To belong to Your family is to all we ever need. There is no family or community here on this earth that we can belong to that will ever love and cherish us as much as Yours. You came to this earth so that we could be made "clean" again and reinstated into Your family. So I do pray that my children would choose You as their Savior and become a "clean," integral part of Your family. But I also pray that You would tenderly provide a community of people (believers) on this earth where they can feel they belong. I pray You would protect them from feeling like complete outsiders in this world. I pray You would give them an integral place in a community where they are loved and cherished for who they are.