While driving to the office this morning, both local sports radio talk shows were talking about Tim Tebow's technical problems. (Note to non-American readers: Tim Tebow is an American football player. American football is a game where the ball is thrown and caught with the hands, and should not be confused with international football where the ball is kicked with the foot.) It didn't matter that Tebow's team won the game. The talking heads only talked about the problem: Tebow's passing accuracy.
When it comes to problems, everyone has an expert opinion. Just listen to talk radio, water cooler conversations and presidential debates. Yea, we love to talk about the problem. The topic doesn't matter - politics, poverty, parenting or passing fundamentals - experts about the problem abound. But unfortunately most have little to say about the solution.
One of the most hopeless problems in New Testamant times was leprosy. It had no cure and therefore left its victims in a hopeless situation. Jewish religious and cultural tradition taught those with leprosy (and other infectious skin diseases) to SHOUT THE PROBLEM.
“Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!’ As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp. (Leviticus 13:45,46)
Lepers were required to "live outside the camp" in isolation from the rest of society. And, if they ever happened to get near another human, they were supposed to shout their problem: "UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!"
Most church people have that "shout the problem" thing down pat. We're good at identifying and shouting about our problems. The same way lepers of old shouted "UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!" we love to talk about our problems: "Bad marriage! Bad marriage! Lousy job! Lousy job! Rebellious kids! Rebellious kids! Boring sermon! Boring Sermon!"
Jesus encountered lepers several times. They all had hopeless cases. There was no cure for their problem. They were rejected and lonely, left to beg. And when they had human encounters, they were supposed to shout their problem, "UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!"
But twice Jesus encountered lepers who broke the rules. They did the exact opposite of what their religious tradition expected of them. Rather than shouting the problem, they shouted the ANSWER!
"Lord, if you are willing, YOU CAN MAKE ME CLEAN." -LUKE 5:12
"Jesus, Master, have pity on us." -Luke 17:13
These two shouted the answer, and these are the ones Jesus healed. What about you, do you shout your problem or do you shout God's answer?
NOTE: This blog is a summary/preview of my Thanksgiving sermon that will be preached this weekend at Bethel Franklin as part of our "Living by Faith" series.