Rev. Trevor Johnston
Series: Love the 561
Week 5: Reaching Out
PDF file for printing: 11-4-2018
- Recite Luke 10:27 by memory as a group.
“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.”
- If you were to ask an unchurched person in our community what they think of Christians, what would you expect to hear?
- In this sermon series, we are using Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages as a template to express ways we could show love to our community so that unchurched people would have more positive ideas about Christianity and be attracted to Jesus Christ. These are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
Last week’s “Love the 561 Challenge” was to offer some practical acts of service to people around you. We were also challenged to seek an opportunity to express love and support toward someone of the Jewish faith, in light of the recent tragic shooting at a Pittsburg synagogue. Share your experience with your group.
- Read Matthew 8:1-4:
When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
What ideas or questions come to your mind when you read this passage?
- Leprosy is a disease that is contracted through touch. This is why God gave the Israelites the law recorded in Leviticus 13:45-46: “Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp.”
Talk with your group about what life was like for people with leprosy.
- Jesus used various methods for healing people. Why do you think Jesus chose in this case to touch this man as he healed him?
Touch communicates love in profound ways.
- The Love Language we’re focusing on today is physical touch. Scientific studies show that babies who are held, hugged, and kissed develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact. Why do you think that is?
- Name some situations when a hug or some other appropriate form of physical touch could be especially helpful and important to the one receiving it.
God moves when we willingly reach out to others
- When Jesus touched this man, he demonstrated a willingness to reach out and get involved in this man’s brokenness. There are many people and problems in our community that need the touch of Christ’s love, but sometimes we hesitate to reach out and get involved, because we want to avoid the messiness of it.
Talk about some areas of brokenness and need in our community that you find yourself hesitant to get involved in, because you don’t want to get involved in the messiness of it.
- Craig Gross wrote the following in his book The Gutter: “Reading the Gospels now, I see a Jesus who is different from the one I knew during childhood. This Jesus is willing to take risks by loving all the outcasts – the people others avoided. He’s most effectively embraced by the hurting, broken, and pretty-much-jacked-up people who gather around Him. He doesn’t turn them off or repel them; He draws those who have emotional, physical, or spiritual needs. The only ones who detest Jesus are the ones who believe they have it figured out, that they’re immune to the streets, to the gutter. Jesus spends most of his time out with the people, not with the Pharisees. He’s in the streets, not in the synagogues. He goes to the gutter.”
Restate in your own words what Craig Gross is expressing here.
Healing, life and grace come through the touch of Jesus
- God instructed the nation of Israel to avoid touching a whole list of things and people, because contact with those things could have harmful effects on them. This included lepers, sinners, and dead people, among other things. But Jesus didn’t need to avoid contact with these, because when Jesus touched sick people; instead of getting sick, Jesus passed on His healing to them. When Jesus touched dead people, He wasn’t contaminated; instead, he brought them life. When Jesus touched sinners; their sin didn’t rub off on Him, instead they caught His righteousness.
If you’re willing, share an area of your life, where you feel a need for Jesus’s touch.
- The assignment for this coming week is to look for situations when a hug or some other appropriate form of physical touch could bless the one receiving it, and then offer this form of Christ’s love to someone. In addition, take some time to pray about whether God wants you to reach out and get involved in a messy problem or situation, to bring God’s love, hope and healing there.