Swimming Against the Current
On the way to Jerusalem, He was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered a village, He was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”
When He saw them, He said to them, “God and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.
Then said Jesus, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
Soccer was my sport in high school. Our season ran from November through March. We were not allowed to do drills with a soccer ball in the off-season until November 1. So our coaches had us spend September and October doing conditioning drills. And one of his favorite drills was to have us run laps around a large pool. The depth of the pool was four feet, and so all twenty of us would “run” around the perimeter of the pool. Once we got the current going in one direction, our running was almost effortless. However, just at the moment, the coach would blow a whistle, and we’d all have to stop and start running in the other direction, against the current. This is really hard. Eventually, however, we’d turn the tide and get the current going in the other direction, and then he’d blow the whistle and we’d reverse again. Here’s the thing—we had to work as a team to reverse the tide. If one person stopped and tried to reverse the current from the other 19, most certainly he would fail. But when all twenty of us stopped, while we struggle to reverse the current, eventually with some effort it could be done.
At the time Jesus walked the earth, there were many currents He encouraged people to reverse. In the verses above, He encountered ten lepers. Lepers lived in isolation, completely cut off from society. And Jesus interacted with them. Jews didn’t talk to Samaritans. And yet Jesus talked with them, and in this case, healed one of them. And Samaritans didn’t talk to Jews, and in this case, it was the healed Samaritan, and not the other nine lepers, who came back to offer thanks to Jesus. The leper had every reason to feel bitter about his state in life, just like many people do in society today. He realized that His healing had come from Jesus, not of his own doing. He also realized it was a gift. And thus he expressed thanks, rather than entitlement. How many people in today’s world in the same situation would have come back to say thank you at all, let alone to an “enemy.” Jesus was all about changing the currents of society.
The current of society today is more about competition than cooperation. There are WAY more voices of discouragement than encouragement. People are more fake than genuine. Relationships are inauthentic rather than authentic. People are quick to criticize and often forget to praise. And in an age of technology, people feel more isolated than connected. These, and other currents, need to be reversed.
There is no way to reverse the current of the entire society. But what about changing the course of our small group—our family, our friends, those we associate closest to? It starts when a small group of people decide to stand against the tide of being competitive, discouraging, fake, inauthentic and critical. One person stands little chance against the tide. But two or three or five or ten can start a new current.
Lord, help me always to know that You are real. Help me to build an authentic relationship with You. May I be inspired to bring to You my good things and my failings. Please help me to encourage authenticity in my relationships with others. Please bring others to me who will encourage me to be authentic. Give me the courage to stand against the tide of competition, discouragement and inauthenticity. Bring people into my life who will stand with me. Amen.
So today’s advice is, don’t be afraid to stand against the current of inauthenticity. Get a friend to stand with you. And if you see a friend try to reverse the current, run to stand with them.