Last Sunday, the Gospel reading during mass was all about this group of ten lepers who were healed by Jesus. They came to Jesus, and he told all of them to show themselves to the priest, which was what was required of lepers who had been healed or gotten better. It was an act of faith, in a way, for them to do that because, looking at themselves, they weren’t better yet. But as they went to the priest, while on the road doing what Jesus had told them to do, they were healed.
In obedience and faith, nine of the lepers kept on going and showed themselves to the priest. And leper number ten was going to do the same thing, but seeing that he had become healed, he was overcome with gratitude for what Jesus had done for him. So, before doing what was required of him by the law, he did what was required of him by his heart, and ran back, fell at Jesus’ feet, and thanked him.
I like to think I’m like the tenth leper… that I know what it’s like to have a heart that is grateful, joyful, and delighting in my relationship with God. But this message has been uncomfortably reiterated in my life this week so many times through conversations, my own readings, even a comment box, that it’s making me second-guess myself. I think, “Christ, are You trying to say something? Am I just like the nine who simply do what they are told but miss the real point of the miracle?”
Of course, this is a constant theme in the Gospels. Jesus praises Mary who sits at His feet and rebukes Martha who is busy doing good things. God is described as a father who welcomes back the prodigal son and has a hard conversation with the hard-working elder brother. He praises the woman who buys costly perfume and pours it on His feet in love and adoration, while scolding the disciple who thought such money ought to be used for the poor. In all of this, the larger question is, “Where is your heart?”
I don’t think it’s that I choose to forget Jesus. I don’t wake up one morning and decide that loving Him will come a distant second to serving Him. I just quietly, without knowing, switch one for the other. Living life becomes less about loving my neighbor, growing spiritually, and making the best life decisions to facilitate that and instead becomes about making enough money to buy daily bread, trying to put out fires, and doing anything I can to facilitate that. I start with seeking to engage my children for the sake of growing their souls, and end up engaging my children so that they behave a certain way so that my relatives and friends won’t think I’m a bad father. Instead of spending time really listening to my wife’s desires and needs because I love her, I start listening to my wife because that’s the good Christian husbandly thing to do. John Piper really hit the nail on the head when he said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” In other words, follow Jesus because you want to, not because you have to. That’s what really honors Him.
It’s easy to forget that on that last day, when I stand before Christ, though making it to Heaven is always a group effort, I will stand alone. And the question won’t really about how much I did or didn’t do to other people. The question will be about what I did or didn’t do to Him. In all the good and the bad of life, where was my heart?
ps… on a completely unrelated note, if you like this blog, you might also like my other one.