Touching God

“We feel more connected to someone if they touch us”
Prof Guerrero (1);

We know this is true on a human level, but I want to also think of inanimate objects. No doubt you can think of examples when you were in the presence of objects of significance, either belonging to a famous person, or connected to a certain important event. If you are anything like me, you will have had an urge to touch it.

I’m certain I’m not alone in this, for whenever I take the family to National Trust house, I always see those annoying signs ‘Do not touch’. Why are these signs necessary? Why do we feel compelled to those?

I agree with Professor Guerrero, an expert in this field, that our desire to touch is because of our desire for connection.

When I pick up that medieval sword, I am not just interested in feeling the cold metal and the weight of the blade. In picking up the sword, I feel a connection being formed between myself and that medieval knight.

If I came across that very same sword in another context with no understanding or appreciation of it’s history, I might still pick it up and swing it around – I am a boy – but the connection would not have the same meaning or intimacy.

What we learn from this is that it is not just a matter of touch, but the real difference comes in our appreciation and understanding of the person we touch, either directly or indirectly, through some object.

These thoughts came to mind this morning as I read in Mark 5 the account of the woman who crept through the crowd, and surreptitiously touched the hem of the garments of Jesus Christ.

In doing so she was healed, but then when Jesus asks who touched him, Peter and the disciples commented on the crowd that were obviously jostling and touching Jesus as they made their way down the road.

All had a connection with Jesus Christ.

For the crowd, the connection was superficial. They only appreciated Jesus as a man who had the power to heal and do many miraculous works. They saw him as a star, and all wanted to be close to him, to touch him, so they could later boast to friends and family of their connection to the pop star of the day. Their desire to touch him was driven by selfish pride.

The woman, on the other hand, having suffered for 12 years had no arrogance or conceit. She had tried everything, she had spent all, and she had only got worse. What was there to be proud about?

Boasting that she had stood beside Jesus, or had touched his arm, was pointless. She was dying, and needed healing. She needed a real connection with the One who could heal, that would reach to the heart.

Having appreciated the divine nature of Christ – God manifest in flesh – and knowing that only God could heal her, she came humbly with one object – she was going to touch God!

She did, connection was made, and she was healed.

In the conversation that followed, Jesus Christ makes clear what we have been saying. It wasn’t the touch in itself that healed her – many had touched him without healing. It wasn’t the garments that held the power – there is nothing of spiritual value to be found in relics or other religious objects.

It was her faith in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, that had saved her.

What about you? Have you touched God yet?

For many, their faith and religion is superficial, skin-deep. It is a matter of doing this or that to feel close to God, but in reality it is motivated by pride, so we can boast in our self-righteousness.

I pray that, instead, you would humble your heart, realise your need of salvation, appreciate that Jesus Christ alone is the Saviour, through the blood he shed at the cross, and come in faith to touch God in a way that while transform your life and have a lasting effect.

1: ‘Close Encounters: Communication in Relationships’ (Guerrero, Anderson & Afifi, 2014)

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