Making Jesus Contagious!
Since my father’s death over a year ago, we have started the lengthy process of renovating the home we once grew up in. A few weeks ago I dropped by to see the progress and was struck by the beautiful new wood floor that was installed in the dining and living room. When I mentioned this to my sister she told me that the floors were not new at all. They were the same floors that were there when we moved into the house in 1966. This was hard to believe. The floors had never ever looked this new even after hours of cleaning, stripping, waxing and buffing. I was sure that the old floor was taken up and replaced with a new one. In fact, the old floor had been restored.
God is like this. God is in the restoration business. Just like those that worked on the floor of my childhood home, when God restores something he makes it better than new! When God comes across something lifeless he doesn’t just resuscitate, he resurrects! When the paths of Jesus and the leper crossed in today’s Gospel he didn’t just heal him of his leprosy, he restored him to the community. For this was the most painful consequence of an already horrible disease: those with leprosy were required to separate themselves from the community so no one else would get infected. They were alone. This is why the most shocking part of today’s Gospel was the fact that Jesus stretched out his hand and actually touched the leper. However, instead of the man infecting Jesus, Jesus infected the man with his love, grace, power and healing.
The whole mission of the church and the ministry of evangelization are based on this foundational principle that the salvation of Jesus can restore lives beyond our wildest imagination (better than new) and it is contagious! That is, we must spread it! We must spread it through our school, our worship, our teaching and preaching, our outreach and service and all our mediums of communication (website, bulletins, etc.) God’s word, his love, his mercy, his truth, his healing, his compassion, must never be quarantined within the walls of our church. It must continue to grow into a world-wide epidemic until all have been infected by the joy of salvation!