03.31.2019 | “Jesus Wept | Week 4: Isolation”
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What is one of your favorite memories when it comes to hanging out with a group of friends?
There is a difference between solitude & isolation. Solitude is the spiritual practice of taking intentional time to be alone, in order to reflect, pray, & hear God in silence to grow spiritually. This is a healthy & important practice.
Isolation, on the other hand, is detaching (by personal choice or by another person’s actions) from community or relationships due to feelings of fear, shame, pride, or insecurity. It is hiding from community by removing yourself from the voices, care, love, advice, & honesty. It is spiritually destructive & devastating for human beings.
Can you think of a time when you isolated yourself from people for the wrong reasons (shame, fear, insecurity, etc.)? Why did you do it? How did it make you feel? Did it help?
Read Matthew 8:1-4
In this story, Jesus heals a man with leprosy. In the Bible’s context, this was an extremely serious infliction. On a physical level, lepers could not touch other people because it was so contagious & destructive. On a spiritual level, lepers were forced to leave their communities because they were considered religiously unclean. This meant they could not participate in worship, live around other Jewish people, or touch another person. Also, anyone who touched them would be considered unclean as well.
Take a moment to see life through the leper’s eyes. How are you impacted? What would you feel?
There are two very important elements to this story. First, Jesus is willing to associate with & heal this person. What does it say about Jesus (who he is, why he came, what he seeks to do) that he is willing to do this?
Second, Jesus heals in many different ways in the Bible (by word, with physical elements, etc.). Thus, HOW Jesus heals is used by him to teach important lessons to his followers. Here, he intentionally heals this man by touching him – something this man wouldn’t have experienced in a long time AND something that would have made Jesus “unclean” in the eyes of religious leaders. Rabbis were not supposed to do this.
What does this say about Jesus & his ministry that he goes out of his way to touch this person to heal them?
How would this have impacted the man with leprosy? (Think: more than just physical healing)
As Christ-followers, we are called to live & work as Jesus did. What does this choice by Jesus tell us about how WE are supposed to care for & help broken & isolated people?
Who (individual, group of people, or type of person) is the “leper” in your life? Where can you heal someone in isolation with a compassionate touch or act of kindness?
What is one step you can take this week to ease & help heal another person’s isolation in your community or world?
Getting Out of the Hole
Review the “response cards” for the week. Pray the prayer and meditate on the words, Explore the topic, and choose a way to Act on your response.
NAMI Tallahassee, the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will be providing a training at E3 on Monday, April 1 at 6PM. During this educational and engaging presentation attendees will hear from a diverse group of people who are managing life while dealing with mental health issues. There will also be information on how to get involved as well as resources for leaders, family members and friends who are impacted by a loved one’s mental health. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about how we can lead and serve in this area! Dinner will be provided. There will NOT be childcare available.