Friday, October 8, 2010

Touching Base! Part 101

How Exclusive Is Your Bubble

(This article can also we found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

All of us have had the experience of re-entering, or returning, after being gone for a while. Think of the possible scenarios…

… returning to the home you grew up in
… military personnel who return from a tour of duty
… the man or woman who re-enters society after working through drug or alcohol addiction
… inmates that are set free and find themselves feeling like strangers around the dinner table
… someone whose marriage ends and they re enter the single life

Take a moment and talk about times that you have “re- entered”. What did that feel like? Was it exciting or highly intimidating?

In our text this Sunday, there is a man who has been “away”, perhaps for a long time. And what Jesus does for him will allow him to come home again.

Read Luke 5:12-17.

To really understand this story, you have to understand how ostracized this leprous man was. He was viewed as ceremonially unclean - in fact, the Law commanded that such a man cry out “Unclean! Unclean!” as he walked along. Clothes that were leprous (general term for a broad range of eruptive skin diseases and disorders) were destroyed. Houses that were found to be contaminated in this way were either given a major renovation or levelled to the ground. The reason garments were burned and houses were levelled… this man has all over his body. Note v.12, “covered with leprosy”. Read Lev. 13:45–46.

What Jesus does (He actually touches him), is off-the-charts radical. Not only because the man was leprous, but because of how some of the religious establishment and much of culture viewed such a person. Priests were noted for throwing stones at lepers, religious teachers often accused them of being more sinful than others. The bottom line is that if you were a leper you would not win a popularity contest. Don’t even think about a beauty contest!

As a group, discuss how you think this man must have felt living with such a cloud over him all the time.

Notice what the leper says in v.12 - note that the critical issue is not the leper’s faith (i.e. he doesn’t say “Lord, if I am willing … ”), nor is it the Lord’s power (i.e. he also doesn’t say “Lord, if You are able … ”), but the Lord’s sovereign will (i.e. he actually says “Lord, if you are willing…”).

Talk about how else this leper may have experienced healing beyond just the physical aspect, because of Jesus’ touch. The following will help you out:
“Touching eases pain, lessens anxiety, softens the blows of life, generates hope and has the power to heal, according to most experts. In fact, modern psychology and medicine are confirming what mothers across the centuries have intuitively known--namely, the healing power of touch.”
Discuss the following statement: “If the church is going to be the Church of Jesus Christ, it must learn the power of touch.”

Some further questions to reflect on as you think of this story.

Why would He touch him?
I think C.S. Lewis states it well - “ You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
Society saw a leper, Jesus saw a soul; society saw someone who was disposable, Jesus saw someone worth redeeming.
How can at times people’s “leprosy” prevent us from seeing their true value in God’s eyes?

What did this act of touching and healing demonstrate about Christ? V.14
What Jesus asks this man to do is totally in keeping with Jewish teaching (check out Lev. 14:1–32) The fact that a man would go to the priest claiming healing from leprosy would alert the religious leaders that something new was afoot in Israel.

Who are the lepers today?
Think of this question on both a personal and a church-wide level. Some suggestions –
  • AIDS in our time, is the Leprosy of Jesus’ day - yet Jesus touched the Leper
  • Addicts,
  • The mentally ill,
  • Gays/lesbians/bisexual/transgendered
  • Someone who has hurt us, we avoid – we put them outside our “bubble” – remember the image from Sunday
  • What would you add?
How does this story illustrate the Gospel?

What do you think this leper saw in Jesus that made him think that Jesus wouldn’t throw stones but extend a hand of help?

Who is on the outside of your bubble? Who is it that you would rather walk away from than towards?

This story demonstrates once again the authority of Jesus, which is one of Luke’s main points. However, it deeply challenges our stereotypes of people and shows us all how we can form unhealthy opinions of others and create a “we-them” kind of world. Might Bethel bridge that gap, see lives transformed, bodies healed and the church engaged!


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