“I will; be clean” (v.41)
Recently I saw a television commercial that made me laugh. The ad was about a medical product. What made me laugh was the long list of warnings that followed. They spent about a minute telling about how this product could help you get better, then another two minutes warning about the possible side effects. So, I concluded that if I were in need of this particular product it could help me…but I could also get a host of problems along with it, like depression, suicidal thoughts, liver problems and so on. Perhaps you’ve seen these ads. I’m not being critical, just amused. I realize the importance of giving such warnings, and actually appreciate knowing this information. But it makes me think about the gospel. What if, in our preaching of the gospel, we warned of the possible side effects of following Jesus? What if, instead of trying to dress up the good news with a bunch of feel good, look good, hype and leaving people with a pseudo gospel of happy thoughts and fake prosperity, that lacks the power to sustain anybody beyond the door of the church building, we tried listing possible side effects so we at least have the same integrity as the pharmaceutical industry has in their commercials. For example, in the story of Jesus healing the Leper we see some side effects of following Jesus.
- Social disorientation: “and a Leper came to him….”(v.40)
You may find yourself running into broken people with lots of issues. Broken people, like the leper, often came to Jesus looking for help. This caused many of the popular, well-adjusted people to avoid Jesus as his associations with “the losers” made them uncomfortable. If you follow Jesus this can very easily happen to you. Your social circles will be impacted.
- Emotional trauma. “moved with pity he stretched out his hand and touched him.”(v.41)
If you follow Jesus there is a very real possibility that you will be moved with deep concern for someone other than yourself and your close friends. Following Jesus usually results in severe bouts of compassion for those in pain or in need. Prepare to find yourself weeping with those who weep and even being mocked for it. There may even be mission trips in your future. If that happens you are hooked.
- Unexplainable supernatural experiences. “Immediately the leprosy left him.” (v.42)
Following Jesus often leads to experiences in the supernatural. Sick people are healed, the broken are restored, and other unexplainable events may take place in you and even through you. You may find yourself having to explain why certain “coincidences” keep happening in your life and the lives of people around you, unless you have been immunized by the false notion that miracles no longer happen. In that case don’t expect this to occur.
- Moments of Apathy. “Jesus sternly warned him…see that you say nothing to anyone…” (v. 44)
Often people involved with Jesus find themselves apathetic about getting credit for things. Jesus was more concerned with the glory of God than with getting attention for himself. His followers are often found not caring about who gets the credit as long as God gets the glory.
- Frequent changes in activity. “But he went and began to talk freely about it…so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town…and people were coming to him from every quarter.” (v. 45)
Jesus schedule of activity was often changed because of people coming to him for help. He couldn’t go into town because everyone was coming to him. This is a common side effect for those who follow Jesus. They get sidetracked from important things like social media, dating drama, and such, because people see something of Jesus in them and seek them out for help, often in the most unusual places.
So please be advised. If you are considering becoming a follower of Jesus, be on the lookout for these side effects. If you experience them please consult your great physician and thank him for giving you the abundant life. If you never experience these symptoms, then chances are you have not yet gotten involved with Him. If these side effects are too disturbing for you, but you like the positive feelings associated with Jesus, then you can do what many have chosen to do. Get the generic religion product without any personal commitment, and you can avoid the side effects all together. Just remember that the generic brand has no long term benefits. It only works in this life. The real Jesus product may have side effects, but is much more potent and lasts forever.