Yesterday I preached a sermon on Luke 17:11-19, the Ten Lepers, and in that sermon I suggested that the major theme of the text was not about "giving thanks," as that theme is often lifted from the story. Rather, I see the import relating to difference between "the nine" and their willingness to keep their distance from Jesus: knowing his name and calling out for help, but keeping their distance; going their way, but because Jesus told them to--they were obedient, in other words, but being just obedient maintained the distance; enjoying the benefit of his mercy, but not coming close to him as the Samaritan did. The Samaritan desired intimacy with Jesus, and his praise, his kneeling, his thanking--all of that together comprised the faith that made him whole.
I think that many of us are obedient, but are content to keep our distance. We know the names, how to call out to Jesus, but have forgotten if we ever started how to praise God, to praise as loudly and as urgently as we pray. We do not come close, do not enjoy the intimacy Christ offers us.
What is true for us as individuals is true also of churches. I want my church to come close to Jesus: I want us to know how to pray AND praise, to be both obedient AND thankful. I want us to give to Jesus and this church not just a little of our time, a little of our money, a little of our attention and enthusiasm, but our HEART.
A HEART for Jesus. A HEART for our congregation. The question before us, and especially in this day, is whether we are merely cleansed and on our way, or whether we are in fact WHOLE, made WHOLE by our praise of, our approach and thanks to Jesus...