Think about this: In Mark 1:40-45, Jesus touches the leper BEFORE he makes him clean.
This order is everything—and it is instructive to us as church.
Typically, both as individuals and as church (and I mainly want church to hear this), we welcome others into our circle of affections after they are clean first—then we touch (welcome, embrace). Here in Mark 1, Jesus is approached by a leper and touches him and then he makes him clean. Everyone else saw a leper; Jesus saw a human being. This is church, people. We welcome others into our circle of affections and care and embrace before we judge or evaluate them. We see human beings, made in the image of God, first. This order is everything. This is the gospel. This is church. And, if we want to have people freely talk about us (our church) and the news of our gospel to spread, this order is everything—and then we will see people coming to Jesus from “every quarter,” every neighborhood.
Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.