August 9, 2017 | by: Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: Theology
The following story is a Facebook post by my gracious niece Brianne of her encounter with a homeless man and how it affected them both: “Just had a homeless man ask for food outside the Wendy's on Bardstown Rd. and when I told him I had no cash on me he replied I understand and I don't want money just some food! So I bought him a burger and some nuggets when I purchased my own food! I've never seen a man more pleased and full of joy! He began to cry and said this is the first thing he has eaten that was not out of a dumpster in a month and that he was thinking about ending his life yesterday when he was turned down for another job and completely down on his luck! He then proceeded to thank me and told me that if it wasn’t for me being so willing to help and taking time to talk to him he might have given up! Tears pouring from his face as he smiled at me made my heart happy knowing I helped him through one more day! Glad I am fortunate enough to make someone this happy! Sometimes it’s a simple act of kindness and a couple minutes of time to change a life! Not everyone is so bad!”
It’s an encounter that speaks to a person’s need to be touched by someone, not just in a physical sense despite its importance as well, but in an affirming manner. Here was a man whose pressing need wasn’t money but the very nourishment needed to sustain his life.Yet it revealed more. It was an affirmation that someone else saw him as a human being and not just a faceless panhandler. Twofold needs are here--one proceeding from the other. His physical need was first met. Next, although turned down by others, he was shown kindness by a young woman who entered his world at the right moment so he wouldn’t give up; wouldn’t jettison all hope. His deeper need was met. Another human being halted their steps and instead of passing him by, took the time for an act of kindness and compassion.
It’s remarkable how such touch can make all the difference in a person’s life.Touch in the physical or non-physical, yet in affective caring delivery, has the gushing power to have tears of joy wash away tears of anguish.
The Bible reveals that touch is at the core of what makes us relational beings. It’s an aspect of what makes us human as we are made in God’s likeness. Jesus touched.His touch affirmed a person’s value by physical restoration.But most significantly, He affirmed a person’s being--their soul itself.
Writer Rob Moll, puts it this way, “A fully Christian understanding of the body recognizes that we are not merely creatures of belief, formed by study and sermons. We are beings of longings, desires, and passions that are shaped by our bodies, made in the image of God. Our bodies are created good, made to be linked together in committed intimacy with others.”1
So, there’s an interplay between the body and soul that makes mankind the being that it is. God originally ensouled mankind by breathing into him. Touch with a capital “T”!
During His earthly ministry Jesus was clearly a “hands-on kinda Guy.” He touched! He healed with touch in proximity (Matthew 8:3, 24, 15; 9:29, 30; 14:36; 20:34; Luke 22:51; Mark 6:56). He healed with touch at a distance (Matthew 8:13). His touch brought physical healing, bodily restoration.It was at least that. But it was so much more. For it was meant to move a person from the physical to the spiritual, from outer to inner, from the body to the soul, from the temporal to eternity. His touch healed the inner illness of the broken human condition to bring reconciliation to the God in whose likeness we were originally meant to reflect.
Believing that Jesus could heal, the recipients of His touch were bodily restored. All these folks believed that Jesus could heal their physical condition. And despite the fact that the fullness of how their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior of sinners eventually played out, all of them were affirmed by God as having value by virtue of being human and made in God’s likeness. Inasmuch as they believed that Jesus had the power to heal, Jesus counted their faith in Him to its own degree as having overarching value.
Who cannot be moved by the story of the woman laboring with the female blood disorder who touched the hem of Jesus’s cloak and was immediately healed for her faith in what Jesus could do for her? (Luke 8:44-48) Jesus stopped in His tracks on His way to Jairus’ house to heal that synagogue leader’s daughter, for a person who by the religious and social standards of that day was unworthy of being in contact with others in the community. A marginalized person. Synagogueless. A faceless person seeking hope in a hopeless life. And she received it by Someone passing by but willing to stop. Oh, and when Jesus did finally arrive to heal Jairus’ daughter? “They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand [touched her] and said, “My child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up.Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat.” (Luke 8:53-55; TNIV) Resurrection then noshing! Jesus sees to all needs.
How is the Christian to meet the need for healing of others in an ever-increasing culture of social disconnectivity? In a world where physical human contact is increasingly superficial at best or, worse, reduced to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, what are we to do? I don’t mean to suggest we all start hugging everyone in line at the grocery store or groping everyone we see in the parking lot. And don’t dare try to groom your neighbor like a mountain gorilla by going through their scalp to dislodge some cooties that might be there.
Being present doesn’t mean being creepy. Perhaps it’s a matter of interrupting our frenzied gaits to where we are headed to see the person in physical or emotional need before our eyes. Perhaps we can just meet them in the kind of world they’re in to first meet their immediate need in order to display the love and grace of the Healer who values both the physical and the spiritual aspects of people He created in His likeness. As touching agents of Christ in the world we convey “the tangible truth of the Gospel.”2 God has given the gift of an affirming touch to those who are followers of Christ. Paul describes it as the gift of helping or helps. (1 Corinthians 12:28; TNIV) You can touch with fingers, with words, with a listening ear, with hamburgers.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” -Ephesians 2:10
Dave Maniquis is a Gospel Partner at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.