Not Like Us

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-X9IfnJTybxA/VslJCHgZt_I/AAAAAAAAO7c/WPUwRev0osM/s1600/Jesus-heals-leper.pngHumans are social creatures but they are also leery of those who are different from them.  This discomfort with "the others" appears to be universal, transcending geography, political affiliation, and socio-economic status. 

Wait, universal?  Can't be, right?  And yet, if you deem yourself informed, cosmopolitan, and open-minded, consider the uneasiness you are feeling about being lumped together with those who are less informed, cosmopolitan, or open-minded.  Consider also how often you have thought or declared that you are moving from where you are to another place that doesn't contain so many of "those people" whose ignorance and intolerance you are willing to uproot yourself to be away from.  Sounds a little like you're being ignorant and intolerant of their point of view.

Pretty early on in the gospel according to Mark, there's a story about Jesus' encounter with a leper.  There is a reason lepers are synonymous with being shunned: socially, religiously, and physically, they were to be separated from the rest of us lest they make us unclean.  For Jesus to interact with this leper, treating him with dignity and even reaching out to physically touch him, is a profound salve for this man and a profound statement about what God in human flesh is about. 

Whoever our lepers are, it is an innate impulse for us to want to be separated from them.  For some of us, it is Muslims, while for others of us it is people who think of Muslims in this way.  To make another Bible reference, none of us are able to cast the first stone.  All of us are guilty.  Let's stop pretending that we're somehow above this, confess that we deeply transgress in this area every day, and work hard to build the same connections Jesus did.
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