I’m a leper; you’re a leper

I’m a leper. At least, if I had lived in the times of the Bible, I would have been shunned, forced to move outside the city in a colony with other people who had leprosy, survive on cast-offs and undergo ritual cleansing. People would fear making contact with me. I have vitiligo, the disease of Michael Jackson, the disease of Naaman, as some scholars would assert). Naaman, in 2 Kings 5:27 was said to be a “leper as white as snow.”

highlighted, because I'm already pretty pale

Syphilis, elephantiasis, vitiligo, even severe acne — all diseases, which, in Biblical times would have been labeled as leprosy because they were disfiguring skin diseases, and  are obviously social life killers. Back in ancient times (and even in places today!) leprosy makes for outcasts, because there is a stigma of communcability. Doctors today associate Hansen’s Disease with leprosy, and all those other diseases get their proper designations. See what you can learn in church on 10/10/10?

I found it hilarious that Mia, half listening to the sermon, heard “lepers” and thought “leopards.” She spoke up, “Aha! He just said leopards! Did they have spots?” Well, yes they did, just like I do. Their skin disorders were seen as an outward sign of their innermost sin. Like Job, with his sores and boils, people assume that if you have some sort of disgusting disease that your soul is similarly diseased. Wouldn’t that make it easier? I wonder what I would look like on the outside if it truly mirrored what my soul looked like on the inside?

I can tell you, I wouldn’t look like Aishwarya Rai:

courtesy of Bollywoodpics.com

Nope, I’m pretty sure I would be an oozing glob of puss and dirt and would smell of putrid flesh and …. you get the idea, I just gagged on that. I’m a technical “leper” if we’re talking about 2 Kings, but we’re all lepers. Not to misquote the poetry of those 1970s Dr. Pepper commercials, but I’m a leper, he’s a leper, she’s a leper, we’re a leper. Wouldn’t you like to be a leper too?

In Luke, 17, Jesus heals 10 lepers. Jesus heals them from a distance, because they are too ashamed to approach him, too aware of the legal distance between them. As they go to appear before the priest, they are healed. Only one returns to thank Jesus. Today, I have vitiligo. My spots are visible, and the doctor tells me, they will only get larger, spread, and eventually make me, like Naaman, as white as snow (HA!). I thank the Lord, though, that my leprosy – the one of my heart and soul- has been healed. It would be wrong for that leper, so recently cleansed, to start attacking other lepers for their unclean state. I’m not going to attack other “leopards” for their spots, because the scars from mine are still on the mend. I’ve come back to thank him for making me, a leper, a vessel for his perfect spirit, as undeserving as I was to receive it.


8 responses to “I’m a leper; you’re a leper

  1. Kristen, I appreciate your candor. Thinking about Jesus’ ministry, this post is a good reminder that we’re all lepers in need of The Physician.

  2. Love this!

    And Maddy would so have the same reaction to hearing the word leper…”leopard! where??” 🙂

  3. Hmm. Now I’m wanting to go back and find the passage in Leviticus that describes how to identify leprosy. I remember there being specifics about the color of hair growing in the “leprous” spots and some other measures…

    • the article I read from a biologist at Liberty was saying that it’s all about context. the Hebrew word just means spreading skin diseases and sometimes referred to mold or mildew in homes. He said that what we think of as leprosy today is Hansen’s Disease, but that they didn’t take chances with stuff like that in Biblical times. Interesting piece.

  4. What a beautiful, well written post Kristin. It’s ridiculous for a leper to shun another leper. Or for a leper to cast out or ridicule another lepers. It’s so refreshing that our King, our Savior, our Lord didn’t stay away. He was personal, he touched, he listened, and more than anything… he healed. I certainly hope that I’m “that leper” that came back and fell at his feet.

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