In Luke 17 is another one of my favorite (and life defining) stories in the Bible. 10 lepers came to Jesus and beg for mercy (healing). Jesus told them to go to the priest and show themselves – this took faith on their part to trust that they will be healed on the way. They were healed on the way. One of them, realizing this miracle, turned back and went to praise God and fell at Jesus’ feet with gratitude. He would wait to show himself to the priest – he needed to turn back and thank the One who healed him. Jesus asked where the other 9 were – they were nowhere to be found. Only the one leper – who is a Samaritan – turned back to thank the Lord. And Jesus proclaimed that this man was not just healed but saved.
We are saved by grace – the Greek word for that is “charis”. Our response to this salvation is gratitude – the Greek word for that is also “charis”. God saves us by His grace and we respond in gratitude. We extend God’s grace and forgiveness to others because we are so full of gratitude for what He has done for us. This is the “charis life” – a life overflowing with gratitude and God’s grace, a life that can see all God has done and is thankful and passes on to others the grace and gifts. This is a life transformed and not worrying about following the rules because all the rules – and more – are fulfilled by gratitude to God. This is charis.
What happened to the other 9 lepers? They were healed, and probably showed themselves to the priest, but may never have known Jesus beyond saying, “He healed me one time.” They never turned back to experience charis and know the Lord of life. Tragically this describes so many people today. Many inside and outside of the church have only seen God as a “prayer answerer” – and known Him from a distance. They take God’s blessings and walk away to religious observation. Jesus walked this planet and is still walking with us – He is calling us to see Him and to walk with Him and to be in community with His people and to bear the pain of bringing healing to this world with Him. This is the charis life.
Those who know the Giver are transformed into givers. They are full of joy even as they bear pain. They never take credit for the good flowing from them. It is all gratitude to the King. It is all grace. It is charis.