I’ll never forget the story of Ben Hur. When agonizing for years over the supposed death of his mother and sister Ben Hur is reunited with them both against all odds. Only problem is, he finds them as outcasts in a leper colony on the outskirts of town thrown into ruin by Ben Hur’s friend turned nemesis, Messala. Stricken with immeasurable grief for years over their loss and now having his heart rush full of desire to be with them, against their wishing, against their tremendous pleas, he holds them, touches them and loves them. All of this happens in spite of possibly contracting the disease of leprosy himself.
What a glorious, glorious reminder of God’s pursuit of each of us.
Going against their advice, Ben Hur’s unending love overtakes his rationale to ‘stay away’ ultimately consuming his mother and sister with his amazing love. Sternly warned, Ben Hur travels deep within the lepers cave to rescue his sister who is almost dead. In finding her, she recoils for his safety, yet he’s unstoppable and brings her to the light, then home. Despite their desire to keep him safe from their disease, their hearts are also broken and against the logic of the situation they return his loving embrace.
Know any lepers? Of course you do…
While you may not know any lepers in the truest sense of the word – you do in your heart.
They are the people who have fallen in your eyes, the people whom don’t measure up, the people whom equal to you in stature are struggling with their marriage, their children or a whole host of issues. With your thoughts, you cast the disease upon them and rather than reach out to them, you forge ahead with your goals and your life, leaving them to suffer on two separate fronts.
The first front where you leave them to suffer is in their current physical state. Take for instance the man or woman whose marriage is falling apart despite their efforts to remain faithful there spouse. You think to yourself, “Whew, glad it’s not me” and halfheartedly find yourself asking others close to the person, “How’s so and so doing?” Making sure to keep your distance because your life has become so so busy.
The second front in which you leave this person to suffer is your opinion of them. Your mind focuses inward on itself and you worry about your own load, deceitfully telling yourself downright awful things about these people. Thoughts such as, “Well if they’d only done this, [fill in the blank] this would not have have happened” – or – “I definitely saw it coming.” – or – “I sure would not have done, what they’ve done” and ergo thought by captive thought you mentally lift yourself above others foolishly thinking you’re immune to the emotional leprosy we all cast on one another.
How many people do you know, if you really thought about it, are doing the best they can with what they’ve got and you have spilled the disease on them through your thoughts and actions. Like Ben Hur’s mother and sister they become hideous to you and in a way they can sense it, recoiling in your presence, yet they don’t know why.
I wonder, if like Ben Hur [who if you remember] was radically challenged by the savior Jesus Christ throughout the story, you’d be willing to step into the leper colony you have created and rescue those people? As with his sister and mother, would you go against all odds to bring them to the light and to safety today?
You know there’s at least one man or one woman who longs for the healing touch you can deliver.
- A family member
- A friend
- A co-worker
- [fill in the blank]
Go, deliver them from the disease you have foisted on them and taste the sweet wine of redemption.
“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40