Can’t Touch This – or better, Don’t Touch This

I came in to the room wearing hospital scrubs, hair garb, a mask, gloves, and even dust booties. You might be thinking I was at a crime scene and hesitant to contaminate anything. Or maybe I was being paranoid and didn’t want to get any nasty germs. I was as close to being a bubble boy as possible, minus the bubble. So what was going on?

I had been asked to do a leadership seminar on the ministry and importance of personal touch. Now in today’s #MeToo world, with the coronavirus causing all types of paranoia, and the PC culture that discourages even a tap on the shoulder, it boggles the mind that we still talk about this. So, in that seminar (almost 15 years ago), I went the opposite direction. Instead of pushing touch, I was emphasizing ‘hands off’. And since I hate hugs, this seemed to work well for me.

However, the ‘can’t touch this’ is not only unhealthy, there are many Biblical accounts of how touch was an important part of Jesus’ ministry.

– Jesus would reach and touch those whom others shunned – the sick, lepers, outcast, children. And yes His touch could bring something we normally can’t (healing), the touch also brought hope and comfort. This we can do.

– Jesus didn’t need to touch. He also did acts of healing with His words, from a distance, or simple challenges to obedience. But there were times He chose to touch.

– Jesus wants us to be his hands and feet – to feed the hungry, visit those in prison, care for the sick. For when we do it to the least of these, we do it unto Him.

– Jesus’s body was physical – before and after the resurrection. He encourages Thomas to touch Him, strengthening Thomas’s faith. We could’ve been non-corporeal, shifting around the universe as bodies of light or some ethereal spirits. But He creates us physical. There has to be something to that.

Research has shown that touch is an extremely effective way to communicate emotion and care.

How do we break through this wall we’ve built around ourselves to harness the power and ministry of touch? Here are few thoughts. Look at your hands right now and think about this …

our hands should convey love. Does avoiding someone do this? Is turning your back on someone the way to demonstrate love?

our hands should be open. And though this could and does refer to generosity, to holding nothing back from God and in helping others, doesn’t this also refer to generosity in touch? Not holding back? To do otherwise would be selfish and uncaring.

our hands should be helping hands. We help someone to their car, we open doors, we wipe the brow of our sick child, we write notes of appreciation and prayer, we reach out to disaster victims, and we take a meal to a shut in.

our hands should be blessing hands. Jesus blessed the children and used touch. Jacob put his hands on his kids as he blessed them. Put your hand on someone’s arm and say a prayer for them. Join hands and pray with a family member, a coworker, a friend.

Look at your hands. Go ahead, I’ll wait. ….. did you look? A few didn’t, so I’ll wait a bit more for you. ….. Ok, what do you see? Lines, scars, dirty nails, hairy knuckles? I see instruments for God to use to show love, give generously, be helpful, and pass on blessings. Will you let God do that today?

No more “can’t touch this” – except in song!

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