Unclean

As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!  Leviticus 13:45

Unclean! Unclean!  The shame and degradation, alienated, afflicted, alone, oh so alone – alone in suffering, alone in shame.

The leper has a disease, a sickness, but must enter the town crying out ‘Unclean, Unclean.’  It’s not their fault they are unclean, they are diseased, but to protect others from a highly contagious disease, they must warn others of their condition.  And yet, think of how they must feel.  Do they feel they are protecting others, or do they feel dirty, nasty, unclean.  Leper! Untouchable! Ostracized, unwanted, unloved.

And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

But Jesus didn’t say, ‘get away from me – you’re unclean!’  Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him… The touch of love, of compassion, of healing…  and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. ~ Mark 40:1-2 NAS

“Unclean! Unclean!”  People flee, judge and condemn – Jesus reaches out, touches, and heals.  Have you ever felt unclean, defiled, unworthy?  I have… but I also have experienced that touch.

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”Matthew 9:12-13

When I was a new Christian, I shared my testimony with a friend.  When I was finished, she shared her story with me.  She had been raped, she was a teenager and the boy she was dating raped her and she felt so ashamed.  For years she bore that shame alone, afraid of telling anyone, and yet she told me.  She told me because I had bared my shame to her.  Even though our stories were different and our shame came from different wounds, we were the same.  I was wounded, she was wounded – we both knew what it was like to feel ‘unclean.’

Like the child that’s beaten and abused feels shame, shame for having parents like that, shame because they believe if only I could be better, if only I hadn’t…

Like the addict who hates their addiction, whether it be alcohol, drugs, pornography, food, or… They know shame and shame draws them back to their addictions, their escapes.

Their hearts cry out unclean! unclean! stay away! but they long for love and acceptance.  They long for a place where they can share their story and be healed.  They long for hope.

Are we, the church, hiding our stories; are we covering our shame with righteous deeds and closing out the hurting world.  Are we judging, condemning and shaming, crying out ‘unclean! unclean! stay away! don’t contaminate us…

One of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him, and He went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that He was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed His feet and anointed them with the ointment.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, He would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

Then turning toward the woman He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with Him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” ~ Luke 7:36-50 ESV

Or… are we sharing our stories, sharing our hope, reaching out with compassion and love to the hurting, the abused, the ‘unclean’?

By Tami Munden

Following are some helpful resources:

LIBERATE – “I have come to set the captives free” Luke 4:18.  –  http://liberate.org/

Steve Brown, Key Life Ministries – http://www.keylife.org/

Justine and Lindsey Holcomb – Is It My Fault?: Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violencehttp://amzn.com/0802410243

Justine and Lindsey Holcomb – Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assaulthttp://amzn.com/1433515989