Risk Taking- Risk Blessing
This morning’s scripture lesson one we probable have all heard before. It is about the 10 lepers who call out to Jesus asking him to have mercy on them. Jesus does indeed have mercy on them. He tells them to show themselves to the priest. He did this because that was the procedure for being pronounced clean. There are Old Testament customs and procedures that need to be followed before a healed person could return to the community.
The story continues, as they are walking, all ten are completely healed. One of the 10… A tithe of lepers, decides to return to thank Jesus. Now in the past I have, and most preachers do use these verses to show that we are at all times and in all places to give thanks for the many blessings god gives us through Jesus Christ. We are to have an attitude of gratitude. And this is a very valid and useful way to look at these passages.
But, I have always been bothered by this passage. Not that there is anything wrong with the thankfulness message. But it still was a puzzlement. I believe that my problem with the passage really stems from a quiz I took back at West Carrollton Junior High School. You see I had a teacher named Mr. Galvin. And on one faithful day he gave the class a test. His pretest instructions were clear. “Read all the directions before you start, no talking , no questions, ” . Well, a quick glace and I began. The first 5 questions were fairly easy. But then the questions began to get MUCH more difficult. I’m not sure but I believe the last 5 questions dealt with quantum physics!
Yet to my amazement, about 15-20 minutes into the test, some of my classmates had completed the test and were on their way out to an early lunch. When the class bell finally rang, I was frustrated and wonder when did he ever go through this in class?
Mr. Galvin stood up and announced to the 10-15 of us that were still there “Don’t bother finishing. I know you all failed.” What! This was unfair! He then asked, “what were your instructions?” Well, someone, not me, said read all the instructions. I grabbed my paper and the last sentence in the directions said. “Ignore all previous instructions. Answer questions 1-5. Look like you are working for at least 15 minutes (Do not all come up and once) then leave for lunch.
Now, I can’t say that I always read instructions. I truly believe that some manufactures add extra parts just to make assembly more challenging.
Ok now do you see what my problem with this scripture is? It is simple. 9 out of the 10 lepers were smart enough to follow instructions. One was not! Jesus’ reaction for me was puzzling. When he praises the one who returned. I expected something like…What part of Go! Show yourself to the priest, didn’t you understand?
So with this, I’ll call it unique perspective, I began to think and pray about this sermon. I decided to look at the passage through a different perspective. Let’s look at it from the perspective of risk. First, is the risk all ten lepers took in coming to Jesus. Let’s face it with health issues, people forget about civil rights. Fear will drive people to do anything to protect themselves. If a leper comes too close to a healthy person, it is more than likely that the healthy crowd will turn and attack with stones in order to protect themselves from being infected. That is why they had to cry out “unclean” whenever they came near people. So lets look at the situation again.
They already have a dreadful disease. It is slow and painful. But if they go near a crowed, they just might get stoned to death. Yet they took the risk and made their way to the crowd. To Jesus. And they even risk the wrath of the crowd by calling out from the distance. They call, Jesus, Master, Have pity on Us.”
By now you all know what His instructions are. They were>>> (Let the congregation answer)
Immediately, they follow the directions and good things begin to happen. They are all healed. Now the scriptures don’t say that the other 9 men actually went to see the priests but if they wanted to be proclaimed clean, (Rituals etc.) so that they could return to the community, they eventually had to.
In my mind, I hear a conversation. All are first amazed and joyful. When one man suggests that they all go back and thank Jesus for the miracle , I hear a rebuttal, But he told us to go show ourselves to the priests? If we don’t go, it may not stick. Someone else might say. Look, that crowd didn’t look too happy to see us. We risked their wrath because we had nothing to loose. Now they could kill us if they see us coming again. It’s not worth the risk!
But the Holy Spirit was working on the heart of the one young man. He decided that it was worth the risk. He was able to withstand the peer pressure and he went back. And as Paul Harvey puts it, You know the rest of the story.
Ok so what does this mean for our church? What does that mean for you as individuals. It seems to be that the scripture is telling us not to be afraid of risk. Don’t be afraid of what others say or what the status quos is. If you feel the Holy Spirit leading you, Go for it! God blesses those who are willing to take a risk for His sake. Not only does He reward Holy risk taking but he expects others to do it as well. Remember, he asked Where not 10 healed?
Our bishop has challenged each church with his vision for our conference. We have heard of radical hospitality, passionate Worship, faith forming relationships, But there is also risk taking service and missions.
I guess I am asking are you willing to take some risks in order to follow the Holy Spirit? Perhaps that means looking at worship differently that it’s not just for Sunday anymore. Perhaps a different setting would be more comfortable for unchurched people.
Perhaps we need to risk looking at Sunday School differently than we have in the past. Does Sunday School have to be on Sunday? Or could there be another time and place that would reach more children? These are some of the questions we need to be asking.
What about our personal lives. Are we willing to risk some of our time, or our money so that the church will have the resources to explore new areas of ministry? Are you willing to take the risk and seek the Holy Spirit? Will you risk the possibility of God actually wanting you to do something? Now I know that many of you are involved in our ministry here. But there are many who do not. Are you willing to seek His will even though you may think your life is too busy with other things, people, jobs , problems.
All 10 lepers, received God’s mercy. Everyone here has the opportunity to know the Joy of Christ in your lives. But only one took the risk to do something in return.
Are you Bold enough to risk returning to Christ and asking, what can I do Lord? How can I help Lord? Then are you willing to risk enough to do something about it?