I used to spend a great deal of my time digging in my soul for spiritual brokenness. I was on a manhunt for sinful motives, ungodly habits, and character flaws – for badness, brokenness, ugliness – all the things I thought kept me from God.
The only good thing about being neurotically guilt-ridden is that it’s so exhausting that eventually, you wear out spiritually; and all you can do is collapse into the arms of Jesus and pray, “Lord, I may be a loser, but I’m Your loser if You want me.”
Sometimes I still stumble into the mud of sinful failures and, in the name of spiritual self-discipline, I reflexively start kicking myself, somehow forgetting that the Word says that it is our Heavenly Father’s job to “discipline those He loves” – not mine. After I get finished giving myself a good kicking, I promise to clean up, to never do this or that again. And I think God sighs and wonders how I keep forgetting the simple story of the leper who broke the rules and came to Jesus.
Jewish lepers were considered so filthy that they had a biblically-mandated protocol for interacting with society; and it wasn’t very pretty.
Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp (Lev. 13:45-46).
One leprous man decided to risk rejection and come to Jesus in his uncleanliness. He “came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean'” (Matthew 8:1-2). Behold what happened next.
Jesus did not use His power to heal the leper from a distance. He came right up to the man, and before He healed him, “Jesus put out His hand and touched him” (Matthew 8:3, emphasis added). Then Jesus said, “‘I am willing; be cleansed'” and “[i]mmediately, his leprosy was cleansed” (Matthew 8:3). Did you see that? Jesus chose to touch the man’s uncleanliness first.
What is your leprosy? What makes you unworthy? What causes you to want to withdraw from God and others? What are those broken parts of you that everyone would look down on, if only they knew. What are those areas inside of you that Scripture itself calls sinful, unclean?
Whatever those areas are, they are not enough to drive Jesus away. In fact, those parts are the very thing that will attract Him – that need, that filthiness, that unmentionable darkness. You will want immediate healing, but He will want to touch those places inside of you first.
Jesus wants your heart more than He wants your healing – so He’s asking you to trust Him with the unclean areas of your heart. Because if you can trust Him with those areas, you can trust Him with anything.
Stretch our your unclean hands today. Put them before the living Christ and say, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” He is willing, but He wants to love the unclean part of you first.