It’s easy to work with someone who is cooperative because he or she gladly helps, collaborates and communicates. By contrast it is wearying to work with an uncooperative individual. Everything is a problem, a burden, or a chore.
Inside your head there is, most likely, a scale by which you measure how cooperative someone is to work with. You have an intuitive awareness of which place each person with whom you work sits on that scale. From very cooperative to extremely uncooperative you grade your co-workers.
So here’s a question for you. Where do you place God on your scale? Do you consider him to be co-operative or uncooperative?
It’s not a simple question. Your experience of God can be mystifying because there are times, if you are honest, when he doesn’t seem to be co-operating.
Rather than assess God on the basis of your imaginary scale or on the current difficulty you are facing, perhaps you should look at the Son of Man to see if you can gain some insight into God’s attitude to co-operation.
There was a moment when the Son of Man is coming down a hill surrounded, as he often was, by a large crowd. One man comes and kneels before him and says “Lord if you are willing, you can make me clean”.
It might be worth exploring why this kneeling man phrased his request this way. Dr. Luke, the one who tells this story, explains that the man on his knees had leprosy.
To have leprosy in those days meant that people did not want to touch you, did not want to be with you, eat with you, or talk to you. Those with leprosy were outcasts forced to live with others who had the same disease in a prison without walls and a degrading mindset.
Such people would have come to believe that their illness was God’s judgment or punishment upon them. Somehow it was their own fault and they now had what they deserved. Generally, people were not willing to help them in anyway.
So this man was used to rejection and wanted to ask, while at the same time preparing the conversation to go the wrong way for him. He, along with most people, was about to get a pleasant surprise. Three words would change his life.
Jesus said to him “I am willing”.
These words are a window into the soul of the Son of Man. They were, of course, meant for the man with leprosy kneeling in front of him but they were also for the crowds, they are also for you.
Do you believe Jesus wants to work with you? Do you believe he is on your side? Do you believe he wants you to succeed?
It’s not such a simple set of questions especially when life is tough and circumstances are unfavorable.
But these words represent a mindset, a heart, a will towards you. The Son of Man is willing, or to put it more clearly, he is willingness personified.
He said, “I am the Light” and he enlightened people. He says, “I am willing” and he co-operates.
This willingness was bathed in two other soothing balms. First, he reached out his hand and touched him, second, he said, “Be clean”.
Princess Diana reached out and touched AIDS sufferers and in so doing changed the perception of the disease, globally, in one action. Jesus’ willingness came with actions.
But it also comes with power “Be clean!” resulted in a radical change and new health for this man.
How does this affect you this week? I will make some suggestions for you.
First, the man came as he was and knelt down. He knew he could not solve this problem. He did not come in anger but he might have come in shame or self-loathing. But he came kneeling and using the word “Lord”.
You can’t come as anybody else, you can’t come with anything other than your state of mind but you can kneel and you can call him Lord.
What is your leprosy, your problem, your challenge? As I write I know what mine is. At the time of writing it has been going on for nearly three years. I am seeking to kneel in prayer and say “Lord”.
You have the benefit of this and other stories which reveal the heart of the Son of Man – he is willing.
I have a daughter who I love with all my heart. If she asks me for something my default reaction is to want to help her. My state of mind towards her is willingness. She knows that.
Do you know that the Son of Man is willing by default because he says “I am willing”?
Here’s the hard part. It seems to me that even though Jesus, the Son of Man, is willing that his timing and our timing are not always the same. I have to confess I don’t fully understand this but it does seem to me that, even though there can be a mystifying timing surrounding his willingness, there are also the same two balms that we see in the story.
Jesus, having said I am willing does reach out to touch us and does command us to be clean. Perhaps the waiting gives us the chance to feel the touch and experience the cleansing. I don’t have leprosy; I doubt that you do, but I do need a touch and I do need cleansing.
As you go to work this week you can know that there is one who works with you who is willing to be co-operative and invites you to co-operate with him. You can take the heart attitude of kneeling, calling him Lord, and discovering his soothing words “I am willing”.
1When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.
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