Summary: God has a dream, that there are no barriers between us and others.

Have you ever felt excluded?

Have you ever felt unnecessarily confined or restricted?

Have you ever found it difficult to fit into a group or to be accepted, or felt isolated?

Maybe it was because you haven’t lived in an area long enough, have enough money, from the right family, you have or haven’t completed a university degree etc.

If so then you would have a glimpse of what life would have been for the ten lepers before they were healed by Jesus….

A life restricted by barriers

Being a leper meant they were ostracized

In the Old Testament book Leviticus there is an entire section of how to deal with those who have leprosy

Listen to a few of these verses

From Leviticus 13 42 to 46

if someone has a reddish-white sore on their bald head or forehead, it is an infectious disease breaking out on their head or forehead. 43 The priest is to examine them, and if the swollen sore on their head or forehead is reddish-white like an infectious skin disease, 44 the person is diseased and is unclean. The priest shall pronounce them unclean because of the sore on their head.

(but wait there is more)

45 “The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ (How would you feel walking down the street saying that?) 46 As long as they have the infection they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp.

Imagine living like that cut off from your family and friends

Now these measures were put in place for a good reason

It was a away for the community to be protected from diseases

Much like people are told to stay home from work or school if they have the flu, so others don’t get sick

So the barrier that was in place was necessary

However it was also devastating for those who had been inflicted with the disease

Anyone with leprosy would be cut off from associating with their family or friends

And this is not healthy

Because as humans God has created us to live in relationship with each other.

Remember in Genesis, God says it is not good for man to be alone

and as we heard in the Jesus all about life course this week

As people we need to be in relationship with others

In Australia the early prison authorities knew this

To control and break the really bad prisoners

They developed a solitary confinement gaol at Port Arthur,

Where prisoners could have no contact with anyone else

they were kept in a dark cell

and even the prison guards wore cloth on their feet when they were on duty so they could not be heard

Even in chapel, they were lead into chapel with bags over their heads and led into their cubical where they could see no one else but the pastor/priest.

This lack of interaction with other people, broke most people and even sent a few people crazy

So being cut off from your family and friends, like a leper is not healthy

However one of the saddest things about humanity is that we want to construct and reinforce barriers and obstacles between us and others

Look in the media, how many of the stories are about constructing or reinforcing barriers

Can you think of any barriers you have created or reinforced between yourself and:

A family member

Another person in the community

A particular group of people

Now we probably think we can justify every barrier that exists

However there are two things I would like you to think about in regards to the barriers that you have between yourself and others?

First of all:

Is this the way of God?

Is this what God wants?

this is something we will explore a little further today

Secondly, I would like you to consider that your dealings with a person or an issue where a barrier exists

Ask yourself is there another way, apart from constructing or reinforcing barriers?

Whilst the Old Testament reveals a way for humans to deal with leprosy,

That is to isolate them and leave them to their own devices until they are healed

Such an approach offers little hope.

However in the New Testament a new approach is unveiled

Jesus does not ignore the problem and say everything will be ok

Jesus, doesn’t say to lepers, hey just go back into the community everything will be ok.

No he recognises their is a problem

In healing the lepers, Jesus shows his respect that leprosy is a problem

But he deals with it

And in dealing with it,

he removes the barriers for the entire ten lepers that exist for them in being part of the community

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