Spiritual Check Up
Spiritual Check Up
Words of Faith 4-6-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."
 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" And immediately the leprosy left him.
 Then Jesus ordered him, "Don't tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them."
 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Let's not rush away from this text. It is not difficult to wonder what this leprosy thing is all about. Why do all the Gospel writers make such a point of naming this disease among all the various diseases that Jesus obviously must have healed? And why did God preserve these stories with so many details?
What do we make of a disease that has been largely eradicated in our culture and life yet is so prominent in our scripture? Perhaps there is significance beyond just the ancient physical malady.
A little study on leprosy reveals some surprising facts. Did you know that leprosy still exists? There are about 5500 cases in the United States but nearly 10 million world-wide. About 5% of the population of the world is susceptible because of one thing-- malnutrition. Untreated, this disease damages nerves so that even slight injuries result in severe infections and lost of bone with scarring. Those are powerful facts for our mission teams. But is there more significance to the disease?
Leprosy presents a powerful image and symbol that is revealing in our own lives and culture. The truth is that we struggle with our own "spiritual leprosies" even if we do not deal with the ancient dreaded disease.
A "spiritual leprosy"? Yes. We might define spiritual leprosy as anything in our lives that is unclean, slowly destructive, and which isolates us. Sometimes it is something very serious and we find we are "full of leprosy". Other times we may just have a suspicious spot that someone saw and labeled as leprosy. It doesn't' matter. If you live under the pronouncement that you are unclean you get worse, not better.
How might the Great Physician actually diagnose us? Perhaps with a few questions.
- Is anything in your life that is unclean? Sometimes we walk around with a feeling that we have a clanging bell around our neck and we can't get right with God. There is something just wrong somewhere. There are two approaches to dealing with being unclean. One is to try to convince ourselves that we are clean when we are not. The other is to actually get clean!
People spend a lot of time on the first response trying to say that dirt is not dirt, that darkness is light, and that filth is okay. James wrote, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like (1:22-24). Is there something unclean in your life? Pretending that it is not unclean is not going to change it. There is only one solution: the cleansing of Jesus.
- Is there anything in your life that has been "pronounced" unclean? Sometimes our biggest struggle is the label someone gave us! Has someone uttered a word against you? Labels isolate us. Sometimes it is early in childhood. You're "stupid" or a "troublemaker". "You'll never amount to anything." Or even something more benign like "You are hard to get to know" or you are a "loner". Labels are all over. You are divorced or orphaned. Labels can be so very destructive. They often condemn us to a "colony" where there is no healing and the label becomes a self fulfilling prophesy. We need to hear the Word of the Lord about us. You are beautifully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14). I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3).
- Is there anything in your life that is eating away at you? There are things that we sometimes carry around and allow to slowly eat away at us-- bitterness, unresolved pain, grief, anger or fear. These things ache within us and tear us apart slowly. The Lord wants to deal with these and set us free.
- Have you lost sensitivity to people or God? The agony of real leprosy was that it slowly destroys the nerves leaving fingers and toes without feeling so that they are easily injured, infected and slowly destroyed. There are things in our lives that cause us to become slowly desensitized to people around us and to God. We lose the careful sensitivity sin, violence, pain and need. We can just stop feeling. One day we wake up and find we have lost all sensitivity to the Lord and what He wants us to do.
- Have you become isolated? Are you isolated physically, socially, psychologically or spiritually? When we let anything isolate us from others in the Body of Christ we are in trouble. The enemy loves this part of the disease. Isolation is destructive. There are isolated people, and even groups and churches. There are parts of the Body that have allowed themselves to become desensitized such that they are slowly eaten away with leprosy. Fingers fall off and toes drop away.
To all this Jesus has short powerful words-- I AM WILLING-- I am determined and delighted to cleanse you. We might even find ourselves saying to Him, "But Jesus you don't understand. I have been leprous for a long time. I am covered with leprosy. How willing are you Jesus?" His answer? So willing that I died for you that you may be clean.
Great Physician, cleanse me. I know that You can do anything. Get rid of those things that are unclean. Remove the labels that have been put on me. Help me get rid of the bitterness, pain, anger and fear as you find it in me. Give me a renewed sensitivity to people around me and to You. Keep me from isolation. Plunge me into relationships that are transforming. Cleanse me. In Jesus' name.