Monday, February 10, 2014

The Ministry of Touch

     When I was growing up, I cannot remember a time when I didn't get a hug or pat on the back.  I loved cuddling next to my dad watching T.V. together and I will never forget all the time he spent with me when I had polio.  Because of the stiffness in my lower extremities, my father often massaged my legs and feet at night to help me sleep better.  This was a part of the therapy recommended by the doctor and it really helped.  All these examples of touch made me feel loved and secure in my home.
     Quite often, we forget how important it is to minister the love of Christ to one another through touch. We may do it in our homes with our family, but we forget that there are many others who need a friendly handshake, a kind hug, or a simple pat on the back.  Perhaps this has become more clear to me after the loss of our grandson.  At the visitation, so many came and gave us a hug, or a handshake which served to reassure our hearts of God's grace and love.  Those of you reading this who came will never know how much it brought healing.  There is something about reaching out and touching another person which brings a sense of acceptance that cannot come any other way.
     Throughout His ministry, Jesus often used touch as a means to heal and demonstrate God's love.  In the City of Galilee, Jesus encountered a leper.  Matthew 8:2-3 reads:  "And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”  And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed." Other instances included the healing of Jairus' daughter who had died, a blind man outside Bethsaida, Peter's mother-in-law to name a few.  We do not know how many times Jesus used touch to heal because not all the miracles He did were recorded.  However, we know that those whom He touched were never the same.
     Too often, we don't realize the ministry of touch we can have in our church, nursing homes, assisted care centers, children's ministry, but especially to those we encounter on a daily basis.  A kind word coupled with a sincere pat on the hand can do a lot to lift a person up.   A number of months ago, our choir members went to an assisted living home where we sang for the residents.  Following our presentation, we went around saying hello to the assembled residents and shaking their hands.  I was blessed and so were they.  Having contact with others is essential to our well being.  Unfortunately, our world has become so oriented to building relationships online that we often forget how important it is to actually touch and interact with those around us.
     Maybe we do not possess great skill in speaking, teaching, or even singing, but we all can touch someone and tell them we are praying for them.  As believers in Christ, we are called to be ambassadors for the Lord.  This means representing Him to people we encounter.  We can do that through the medium of caring concern for that person as well as touch.  Let us demonstrate the love of Christ by praying for them and offering them a warm handshake or a kind hug.  In that, God is glorified and a soul is ministered to.  Selah!

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