Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed. —Mark 1:41 NKJV
Are you old enough to remember AT&T’s ad campaign, “Reach out and touch someone”? A modern version would be “reach out and listen to voice mail prompts” or “…and text someone.” I am guilty too. Sometimes a text is SO much easier than a real whole conversation. The problem is we are a culture where real touch is lacking. A friend loses a loved one. Send a card, leave a message or write an email. It’s all so tidy and it makes you feel like you care. But your friend may be feeling the outfall of all of this faceless communication…isolation and despair.
Billy Graham lamented recently that he felt we never should have done away with the black armbands of the WWII era. They were worn by people who had lost a loved one and they were worn for a year. The armband meant “I’m hurting, go easy.” The community understood. Handle with care… a gentle touch and lots of grace.
Jesus’ ministry wasn’t found in cathedrals or counseling offices. Yes he did preach in the synagogues as he traveled but I don’t think he would’ve had “The Jesus Hour” on TV. You could find him in the middle of huge pressing crowds, or walking among the sick, the untouchables. When he touched the leper and healed him, the word “touch” used here doesn’t mean to touch lightly, it means to grasp or hold. “Jesus was moved with compassion”…true compassion lays hold.
I am not the huggy-feely type but I learned the preciousness of a hug after my son died. The hugs were many and I needed them. The cards, the emails were precious too, but only if they came from people who were “moved by compassion.” Let’s be careful that compassion and a much needed embrace are not replaced by convenience and a Hallmark attitude. Let’s touch as Jesus did…with fearless love.