Can you think of anyone you “tolerate” or avoid because their life looks differently than you think they should?
June 3, 2017, 12:00 AM

A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. Mark 1:40-42

Two things strike me about the story of Jesus healing the leper. One is that the man came to Christ boldly; kneeling at His feet and telling Jesus that He could heal him if He were willing. The leper wasn’t challenging the Son of God’s ability, but His inclination and His readiness.  Now if I were Jesus, I would have been “moved with compassion” too. But you can bet I’d have taken a few steps back and healed the leper from afar. No need to risk infection of a highly contagious disease. But Jesus. Oh, how He loves. “He reached out and touched him.” Not even lesions, disfigurement and crippling stopped the Great Physician from physically laying hands on the man.


If only we were inclined and ready to get our hands dirty in understanding others, especially those we don’t agree with. Our culture touts tolerance, but tolerance is no substitute for healing love. Society tolerated the leper, but who dared love him except Christ?  It’s certainly possible to put up with others from afar.  But when we humbly venture into the murky unknown with a friend who is suffering from choices we’d never make, or a co-worker who scoffs at our beliefs, we are supported. Our fear of saying the wrong thing is replaced by the Holy Spirit’s guidance and strength.


As we express the same willingness, compassion and love that Jesus Christ gave so graciously to the leper, we are rewarded with a deep sense of joy and fulfillment.  That’s more than I can hope for from a life of tolerance.  Can you think of anyone you “tolerate” or avoid because their life looks differently than you think they should?  What would it look like to reach out to them, even in a small way? Are you willing to pray for God to arrange the opportunity?


This is my Prayer: Father God, help me resist my natural tendencies to build walls instead of bridges. Lord give me the courage to befriend those who aren’t just like me.  Jesus draw me closer to You, so I that I can express Your love without resistance. God show me who You would have me reach out to.  In Jesus name, Amen.