Summary: A sermon on the Christian’s call to love and accept all with an emphasis on those with mental illness.
“No One is an Outcast”
Leprosy was the most terrible disease in Jesus’ day.
The leper was considered utterly unclean—physically and spiritually.
A leper couldn’t approach within six feet of any person, including family members, and as Leviticus chapter 13 reads: “The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live outside the camp.”
Lepers were the outcasts!
They were totally ostracized from society.
Just try and imagine the anguish and the heartbreak of the leper…
…being completely cut off from family and friends and society.
Imagine the emotional and mental pain.
Let’s ask ourselves: “Who are the lepers in today’s society?”
Who are the outcasts?
I’m sure we can think of many.
There are those who are outcasts in schools and on playgrounds because they just can’t quite fit-in with the other children.
There are those who are outcast and ostracized because they are living with certain diseases like HIV and AIDS.
These people are often cut-off not only from society…
…but also by family members, friends, and in some cases—the Church!!!
There are also those who are outcast and ostracized because they have mental disabilities.
And these mental illnesses have names like: schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and others.
These illnesses are biologically-based conditions that involve biochemical imbalances in the brain.
Mental illnesses are not caused by a lack of faith, a secret unconfessed sin, parenting styles, or a curse from God.
As a matter of fact, one out of every four families has a person dealing with mental illness.
So there is a pretty good chance that many of us know someone or are ourselves dealing with some of these problems.
Sadly, like leprosy in Jesus’ day, there is still a social stigma attached to these afflictions.
People with mental illness are often treated like outcastes, annoyances, and this only makes things worse…
…this is one of the reasons that suicide runs so rampant.
So where can folks with mental illnesses run?
To the Church?
To Parkview United Methodist Church?
Let’s hope and pray that they can, because as we see in our Gospel lesson for this morning—Jesus does not ostracize anybody!!!
We see in verse 11 that Jesus was in the middle of a journey.
He could have been heading for an important meeting or He could have been tired and exhausted—with no time for interruptions…but out of desperation the lepers interrupted Him anyway.
“They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’”
Notice that within these ten outcasts were a mixture of both Jew and Gentile. At least one of them was a Samaritan.
Normally Jews did not associate with Samaritans, but leprosy broke down these social barriers while creating new ones.
Isn’t it interesting how tragedy and adversity can bring people together?…