It’s Thanksgiving in the United States and it is time for churches nationwide to break out Luke 17:11-19 where Jesus heals ten lepers but only one returns to give thanks.
It’s a simple story with a simple moral lesson: Be thankful. Right?
Welcome to 50-for-50. This post is part of a collection of 50 things I’m doing involving the number 5 to celebrate my 50th trip around the sun. Over the next year, I will highlight 50 things from the Bible that have most shaped my thoughts on faith and life. You can read all 50 Bible reflections here or sign up for a full 50-for-50 weekly recaps here.
There’s just one thing in the text that pops out. The one who returned is not just a foreigner but a Samaritan, a half-breed. A remnant of the old northern tribes of Israel who’d interbreed with local populations of the decades and now see Mount Gerizim, not Jerusalem, as the site of Yahweh’s presence on earth.
To not pay attention to this detail means we miss two important things:
- The text is really about the scope of Jesus mission, specifically that it extends beyond Israel and to those Israel purposefully marginalizes and
- it is often those from the marginalized populations who understand, receive, and respond to Jesus’ message.
This isn’t a moral lesson about being thankful, it is an invitation to ask if we are more like the ancient Jews who often failed to recognize the Savior in their midst even as they participated in all of the outward signs of faith, or those found on the margins whose whole lives, no matter how messy they might be, were transformed by Jesus’ presence?
The Lesson Beyond the Lesson
But there is a deeper lesson here, a lesson beyond the lesson of the text. It’s one we should carry with us whenever we open the Bible.
The Bible is not a book about things that happened. Nor is it a book full of moral lessons. It is not a guide for life on earth. In fact, the Bible is not even a book intended to make your life better.
No, if read well, the Bible will ruin your life in the most beautiful way.
The Bible, if read well, asks hard questions. They are the kinds of questions that make us uncomfortable as they invite us into a peace that surpasses understanding.
- Am I more like the Jews or those they marginalize?
- When Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you,” do I believe it?
- What would life look like if I really believed I was relentlessly loved by God?
It’s that last one that I’ve wrestled with most ever since that day I recognized I was not a child of wrath but a wrathful child. It’s one I wrestle with every time I post to Abundance Reconstructed.
What does my life look like as I step into the belief that I am relentlessly loved?
It’s being a spiritual misfit and an abundance cultivator, a cage-rattler and key-dropper. For me it means promoting human thriving as a breathwork facilitator and holistic life coach with a specific heart for men and those engaged in Christian (de)construction.
And for this life, I am beyond thankful.
How about you?