Summary: A sermon about making the decision to be happy.
“Close to the Source”
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
It happens a lot.
Something occurs, or is about to happen and suddenly we become very religious.
Perhaps a person finds a lump in their breast and, in fear and trembling, prays fervently that it is not cancer.
And when it turns out to be no big deal, they just go on about their life and little has changed.
Or maybe someone is going through a particularly difficult time.
Perhaps a child is in the midst of rebellion, or maybe the person is going through separation and divorce.
Suddenly, God and the Church become extremely important to them, whereas, before this…God was hardly on the radar.
But when things smooth out…
…when it seems like God is no longer needed…
The Church and Jesus get put back on the shelf, like an old book that never gets read.
One time, on His way to Jerusalem ten men who were suffering tremendously called out to Christ, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
These guys were lepers.
Not only were they in great pain, but they were outcastes from their communities.
They weren’t allowed in the village.
They must have looked horrible to the people around them.
They had no place to bathe; their clothes were old, torn and dirty.
Their open wounds looked horrible and smelled bad.
No doubt about it—they had hit rock bottom!
And there are a couple of things about rock bottom.
One is that people tend to “get religion” there.
Another is that, well, Jesus is indeed there as well!!!
Of course, Jesus is not only to be found at rock bottom, but also on the highest hilltops!!!
Jesus is always there, always with us and Jesus turns no one away.
Anyhow, these ten lepers, these poor souls whom no one else will have anything to do with, cry out to Christ, and Jesus has great compassion on them.
He doesn’t reject them like the rest of society had.
They speak briefly, and then Jesus sends them away, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”
“And as they went,” as they obeyed Christ, “they were cleansed.”
They could return to the world.
They could now get on with life.
They could go back to what they had lost.
They could return to the old routine.
Their urgency for God had passed.
They were free to put Him back on the shelf to collect dust.
Only one of the ten lepers returns to Jesus.
He falls at Jesus’ feet and thanks God for healing him.
Jesus says to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
The word used here for “rise” is the same word which is used for the Resurrection of Christ.
In other words, this one guy who returned was healed spiritually; or saved!
He was made well, or complete!!!
He entered the Kingdom of God!
He entered into Christ’s Resurrection from the dead.
And that is what happens to each one of us as we become members of the Body of Christ!!!
Behold, all things have become new!!!
Who wants to go back to the way things were?
There is a better Way, and that Way is new life in Christ!!!
The other nine lepers didn’t come back to Christ.
Instead, they went back to their old jobs, their old way of life…whatever.
And Jesus was concerned…
…perhaps even heartbroken.
“Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?”
Jesus not only wanted to heal the lepers; Jesus wanted to be in relationship with them!
Jesus knew what was at stake for them, and He was offering them much more than a cure for their physical illness.
He was offering them a life changing, worldview altering, hope-filled adventure that only comes through an on-going relationship with God.
This relationship offers forgiveness of sins, the healing of inner wounds, comfort for dealing with the other problems of life and a community of faith…
…a real reason to live…
…and work to be done!!!
And everyone has a part to play…
…everyone shares a starring role in the Kingdom of God.
It’s so great that there are no class distinctions in God’s Church.
Everyone is equal.
Every person is of great use to God in this lost and broken world.
Even if a person is confined to a bed, the power of prayer alone can bring men, women and children closer to God.
I have never experienced a serious illness, but I have needed Jesus.
I have sinned against God and God’s people.
I have had injuries that needed healing.
I have been in situations where I don’t know what to do.
I have hit “rock bottom.”
I have needed God’s wisdom, God’s love and the assurance of God’s Presence.