One of these things is not like the others…


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 54; 146, Deuteronomy 12:1-12, 2 Corinthians 6:3-13 (6:14-7:1), Luke 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Jesus asked where the other nine might be, but it seems he should have known; after all, he had told them to go to the priests for ritual cleansing. The one he praised for returning had actually failed to follow instructions. When someone is rewarded for breaking the rules, how does that make us feel?

When do we think it’s appropriate to break the rules? Here’s one possible answer: when it brings us closer to Christ. In the case of the Samaritan leper, that closeness included physical proximity. Technically, before getting a clean bill of health from the priest, he should not have approached Jesus, let alone gotten close enough to fall at his feet. Of the ten, he alone seemed to understand it was his relationship with God and Christ, not his adherence to instructions, which made him whole and presentable.

Don’t let anyone’s expectations stop you from rushing toward the love of God. Not when they treat you like an outsider. Not when their rules are designed to hold you back. Not even when your own expectations leave you feeling unworthy. No matter how much you think the odds are stacked against you, throw yourself at the feet of that love. Your faith will make you well.

Comfort: God loves you regardless of anyone’s rulebook.

Challenge: You have to be willing to accept that love.

Prayer: Merciful God, I throw all my cares, praise, and gratitude at your feet. Amen.

Discussion: Has anyone ever made you feel unworthy of God’s love? If so, how have you overcome those feelings?

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