As mentioned in our first post (Outside the Camp – A), I had just finished a study in Matthew 8, of Jesus cleansing a leper (See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus) and was in discussion with my favorite wifey. We considered the following two verses and started comparing lepers with believers.
Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. – Hebrews 13:13
He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp. – Leviticus 13:46
This post will continue with our thoughts and hopefully provide an opportunity for my readers to discuss additional parallels you may see between lepers and the New Testament believer.
Both communities consist of people who live under a death sentence.
The leper understood the disease would kill him and lived with this truth everyday, as their nerve endings quit working, organs began to shut down and their vision began to slip away.
The New Testament believer is also to understand his day to day experience of living under a death sentence, of carrying a cross and dying daily while in the Christian community. Our experiential feelings of love and belonging to this old world is to die as we grow closer to the One who delivered us.
Both communities have no one else they can trust in.
Both communities, as they experience separation from the greater society, naturally learn to trust in their own community and hopefully in the God who protects and guides them. For the typical modern church adherent, this need for trust within the community is fostered through relationships beyond the Sunday morning entertainment hour. Both communities, in reality have only One they can trust in for their lives.
Both communities experience suffering.
The leper would experience the suffering of exclusion and rejection, of the constant reminder of being out of the camp, away from family and friends. Much of the pain the leper would experience would not be associated with the physical realm, since they could not feel any pain as the nerves died. The suffering would be emotional and spiritual, since it appeared that their disease separated them from the God of the universe.
The New Testament believer also experiences suffering, but in our situation, the suffering may also include physical pain, along with the mental, emotional and spiritual suffering referred to above.
Both communities need to to be thankful for pain
The lack of pain for the leper sometimes caused greater damage to their body, as the leper would inadvertently allow further damage to their body by not recognizing the pain. A case in point is the common occurrence of a leper picking up a hot item, burning their skin and allowing this damage to continue.
The pain we normally experience is actually a gift, in that it guards us from unnecessary damage. The church is to be thankful for the pain of association with the Lord, as the early apostles gave witness. Sad to say, this avoidance of pain is actually encouraged in the modern church, under the teaching that we are to have our best lives now, that we as “children of the King” should only have blessing and good things in our lives. Pain and suffering is to be rejected by simply claiming healing or relief. Some of this teaching actually recommends we command God to remove pain.
Our thoughts on this connection between a leper and a believer are incomplete at best. As you read through this series on lepers and believers, and thoughts came to mind, please comment below. If you know someone this post may bless, send them a link so they may join us also.
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