The Bells. (Wyldlife Talk)

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How many of you have ever been the new kid?

Maybe you moved from another town or you transferred to a new school. Maybe it was right here at Swift Creek.

How many of you felt like you had a new start? A chance to be somebody new, somebody better? Whatever was known about you didn’t follow you here. This is a fresh start.

Well the first day of my 6th grade year this was me. I had been going to a school called NFC my whole life and I was leaving behind what people knew of me for the last six years. I was given this fresh start. I could be whoever I wanted to be! And of course I wanted to be cool. Shortly in to my first year there, all the attention was on me the new kid. All the students at this middle school had known each other for years and I was the guy they didn’t know. We had this event called the Fall Festival and I was hanging out with these girls and of course the bold question that every Middle School girl just loves to ask comes up.

“So Devon…..Got a crush?”

And I hesitated and tried to avoid it but as you know Middle School girls are super persistent and have some weird sort of magic voodoo that’ll get you to answer this question. So eventually…they got the name out of my mouth.

I was crushing on one of their friends named Dixie. Now Dixie was this  freckled up girl with glasses and pigtails who liked to talk fast, like very fast.  And for whatever reason, I got made fun of. And me being the good ole sensitive child that I was had my sixth grade feelings hurt. Because it was such a small school, I became the kid who liked Dixie and I was so embarrassed.

On top of that every day in middle school my dad gave me a heated lunch. I would unscrew my shiny metal thermos to the delicious treat inside…..spaghetti. Every. Single. Day. I had Chef Boyardee spaghetti. And I mean EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Well one day my Dad decided to be super awesome and he brought me lunch from a restaurant. And I was so excited about this and anxious to see what it was that when I found out that it was Fazolis…and inside it was spaghetti….it didn’t bother me. I took my food out to lunch and started to chow down and all my friends came over and wanted a taste of my deliciousness. I said no. But they persisted and started sticking their hands in my food. Spat in my food so I wouldn’t want it. And eventually I cried and threw away almost my entire meal and stormed off in a heated anger. And now I was the spaghetti kid who liked this Dixie girl.

I felt like everywhere I went this defined me. This was my new identity at this school. And I felt like this was all people knew of me.

In the Bible there is a man with a similar identity. In the time of Jesus there was a disease that went around called leprosy.  If you were a leper your skin probably had sores all over it. It was a disease that was highly contagious and if you had it you were immediately outcast from your society. That meant you couldn’t live with your families, friends, spouses. Your identity became leper.

Outside of big towns there were leper communities where all the lepers would live together. When a leper would walk in to town he had to walk around with bells saying “UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!” And people would run to the other side of the road and avoid the person completely.

Maybe some of you feel like this. Maybe like me, when I was in middle school, you feel like when you walk down the halls of Swift Creek people avoid you because of something you’ve done or said. Maybe it’s the girl you like and people make fun of you. Maybe it’s your appearance; people have called you ugly or fat or too skinny. Maybe you missed a big goal in your sporting event or you let someone down.  Or everyone knows who your parents are because they got arrested or you are what some would consider poor. You walk around campus and you feel like people stare at you and are all thinking these same negative things that maybe are completely out of your control.

That’s how this leper felt. He couldn’t help the fact that he had leprosy because there wasn’t a cure for it. And he had to live with people avoiding him his entire life.

One day this leper had heard word that a healer and miracle worker was coming into town and the leper was anxious to rid himself of this disease and identity. And so this man with leprosy came to this man named Jesus and begged him on his knees,

“If you are willing, you can make me clean.”

The Bible says Jesus was indignant. Which means feeling or showing anger or annoyance at what is seen as unfair treatment. So Jesus was angry and annoyed at how this man was suffering. He was angry and annoyed at how unfairly he was being treated. That this was his identity. That he had this unfair illness. And Jesus he reached out his hand and touched the man. He looked at him and said “I am willing. Be clean!”

Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. This man’s identity was taken away and he was given a new identity. This, was now the man who was healed by the Son of God.

God maybe is a word that is intimidating for you. We have talked about how God can change who we are into something so much better. And this leper he knew this. He came and dropped to his knees and said “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” If you are willing, you can make me new.

Maybe you have a hard time believing this or maybe you feel unworthy of this. Why would God make someone as awful as me clean? After all I’ve done God wouldn’t want to fix me. If God knew what I did, If He knew who I was, He wouldn’t ever want me.

Jesus said these words; “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the perfect people, but those who are imperfect.”

When we feel like God is unwilling to love us or make us new remember His words.

“I am willing.”

Christ because he loves us so much, he gives us a new identity. That identity is a child who is loved by God. And this identity will never go away. No matter what people think of you, no matter what you do. When you ask him to heal you and make you new, you are forever a child of God. And He loves you more than you can even fathom.

Breakout Questions:

1. Have you ever been the new kid? What did that feel like?

2.Have you ever felt like you had an identity that you didn’t want it?

3.Do you want God to make you new/ Do you believe that He can?

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