November 4, 2018
Watch Pastor Trevor this week as we finish Love the 561. In this week’s message, Trevor talks about how we can reach out to our neighbors as we love the 561. In this series we will be relating Gary Chapman’s the 5 Love Languages to how we can practically show Christ’s love to Palm Beach County, Fl.
So we are finishing, today we're concluding a series we've called Love the 561, where we want to learn how to become better at loving our neighbors and as you saw in the video, we want to become better at loving Palm Beach County. For as beautiful as Palm Beach County is, there are some struggles that our county really has that needs the love of Jesus in a really powerful way.
Now, our theme verse that we've taken inspiration from all series long, this is what we're trying to memorize together as a church, it's Luke 10:27, the second half of it, in second half, verse b there. So 10:27 verse b. Let's read it one last time together from the screen or from your notes. Ready. Go. 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.
See this teaching appears all throughout the ancient biographies of the life of Jesus. They're called the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, where Jesus summarizes the whole Bible and saying, "This is what it's really all about. That by grace you could learn to love God with all that you are and when you love God with all that you are, when the love of Jesus has not just in a philosophical religious type of idea that you check yes to that, that you affirm, but when you experience it, when you drops from your head into your heart, that should change you." It should change your character. It should change your motives. It should change everything that's going on internally so it changes everything that's going on externally in your life. So if you know the love of Jesus in your heart, people should know it by how loving you are to them. It's both and. You need to have a personal devotion to God and then a practical application of how that looks.
I thought about this last night. How many of you, if you just took a drive over to City Place, and you just randomly grabbed somebody on the sidewalk and said, "Hey, what's your opinion of Christians?" What do you think people would say? Ooh, there's some snickering, going oh ha ha ha ha. I long for the day when people in the 561, in Palm Beach County, if you just randomly grab somebody and say, "Hey, what's your general opinion of followers of Jesus, Christians? What's your opinion of them?" And they'd go, "You know what? I'm not sure I believe what they believe. I don't get everything entirely, but those people are the most loving people I have ever met in my entire life and they got something going on that I want more of." That's what should be happening in our county and that's what we're talking about all through this series. We want to be people who don't just not only say yes to love, but people who become love. That's what we're talking about.
Now we're taking the material from the Holy Scriptures, always primarily that's always what we talk about on the weekend. That's our source of wisdom and truth. We say that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and that's revealed through God's written Word, but we're also taking supplementary material that we can learn from as well. So we've been talking about the five love languages from Gary Chapman. You saw that in the video that we just had there. Let's do a quick review here. They are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. So today we're talking about the final love language as we're learning to love the 561, which is physical touch. That's what we're going to be talking about today.
So we have a special gift for everyone today. You might have noticed this in your Connect folder. If you saw this here, go pull this out. It's in every single person's Connect folder. We have car decals for everybody here today, with Love the 561, our church website on there. Isn't that cool? Yeah, it's very cool, because here's the deal. What we've said at the beginning of the sermons here, is you heard Pastor Dale say this and if you've been at the East Campus you've heard me say it, that we as a people, we just don't want to talk about loving our county and loving the 561 just in the month of October and then it's over and that's good. No, we want to not just launch a sermon series but a movement because this is what we want people to identify Community of Hope with. That those people love the 561. Amen? Amen. Very good.
So, it's a free decal. You're under no compulsion to put it on your car. It's not like we're not going to let you on the property unless you have one of these. We're not doing that. Man, put it on your car. Help spread the love. If you're a speed demon, maybe think about not putting it on the car. Officer, yeah, I go to Community of Hope. You know, maybe not that, necessarily, but it's our gift to you. Make sure you check that out, okay? Great.
All right. So, for today, for our final message in this series which we're going to come back talking about loving the 561, we're going to talk about it every year. It's going to be a great thing. For today, in conclusion, for this sermon series today, we're going to be studying and looking at the gospel of Matthew, which is the first book of the New Testament. It's about the life of Jesus. So, it's on your notes. If you have your Bible, go ahead and open it up now or an app on your phone. Go ahead and open it up. We're in Matthew, chapter 8, verses 1 through 4. And guys, can I just tell you I am so excited to share this with you all today. I can't wait to talk about this three times this morning because this is one of the most loving stories of Jesus in all of the Bible. I am just thrilled to share this with you. So let's learn how to love better from our Lord Jesus.
Matthew 8, verse 1. "When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed Him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before Him and said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."" Wow, man. I wonder how many of us need to hear that today. You can make me clean, Lord. "So Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. "I am willing," He said. "Be clean." Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 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."" This is the Word of God for us today.
So, the title of today's message we're calling Reaching Out. Reaching Out. Would you pray with me? So Father, we come to You through the name of this loving Savior, Jesus, and we come by the power of the Holy Spirit. God, I thank You that we can feel Your presence in here today. You've already met with us. And Lord, You were waiting here for us before any of us woke up this morning. Thank you. Thank you, Lord. God, here's my prayer. It's what we sing at the end of our worship set that Billy and his team so skillfully led us through. I ask that by the power of Your Spirit, You would show us, reveal to us, Who You are. You are a God of holy love. Fill our hearts with Your love, and Lord, lead us to go love those around us. We don't want to be a people who just say yes to love. We want to be a people who become love so that we can love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We ask this in Your name, and everybody said Amen. Amen.
Okay. So this story that we just read revolves around a man with leprosy. He is one ... it's Jesus and him. Those are the main characters in this. Now let's talk about leprosy for just a few moments. It's important to contextualize this passage because if you don't have the proper context and understand the gravity of what's happening in this moment, you're going to miss one of the biggest points of this whole section of Scripture. It's quite powerful. If we're really going to grasp the truth in this, we need to understand the disease of leprosy because in our context, leprosy's been widely cured. Thank God for modern medicine, right? Unless you've been to a third world country, how many of you by show of hands have ever even seen someone with leprosy? Ever? Not online, in person. Two people. Okay. Not many of us. Three. Not many people have ever seen leprosy ever, ever, ever before in our entire lives. So let's just get a little bit of context here.
So leprosy, if you're going to have a medical diagnosis of it, it's actually called Hansen's disease. It was given that term in the late 1800's. Symptoms of leprosy often involve disfiguration of first internally with your nerves and then your respiratory system, but then it works it way outwards so serious disfiguration of someone's skin and eventually of their eyes. It's a horrible, horrible disease. This disfiguration results in a lack of ability to feel pain. You just grow numb. You can't feel anything. Because you can't feel pain, this leads to loss, believe it or not, or some body parts because if you can't feel anything you accidentally get cut and you accidentally get injured and because you don't notice that you're cut or injured it gets infected and because you don't know or can't feel it's infected, it becomes so diseased that people who have serious cases of leprosy literally have parts of their body falling off of them. It's horrible, horrible disease.
Now, thankfully, for modern day medicine, it's curable through mutli-drug therapy that was developed in the 1940s and then further in the 1950s. Here's some statistics on this. Globally, in 2010, the number of chronic cases of leprosy was 189,000. Still sounds like a lot, but get this. In the 1980s, it was 5.2 million. Leprosy is being eradicated from the face of the earth because of the miracle of modern day medicine. Isn't that a great thing? Praise God for modern day medicine and those who are doing medical research. Today, on the planet, there are 16 million people who have been treated and cured from leprosy. It's an awesome thing. Now, anybody who still gets it today, it's in a developing, usually third world country, that only gets contracted among the poorest of the poor, but even they have availability to drugs and treatments for stuff like that.
Now here's what's true about leprosy today just as it was back then. You contract leprosy through touch. Through touch. And that's why in the ancient world when they didn't have modern medicine, when somebody got diagnosed with leprosy, it was a death sentence. Ancient Jewish rabbis, if they considered somebody to be miraculously healed by their faith or by prayer or by God, they considered a healing of leprosy to be just as difficult as raising somebody from the dead. That's how serious leprosy was. In fact, leprosy was such a big deal in the ancient world that it often framed some of the discussion even in the Bible. In the Old Testament when God, through the inspired writings of Moses, gave people, the ancient Israelites, instructions not just on how they should worship but also how they should run their government. The ancient nation of Israel had laws and rules around diseases. It was kind of like the ancient Jewish form of the Center of Disease Control.
It's in Leviticus 13, and this is what they talk about with leprosy here. You can see it on the screen. Verse 45. "Any one with such a defiling disease," leprosy, "must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover their lower parts of their face, and cry out anywhere they go out." Somebody's covering their face, "Unclean, unclean. Unclean." Everywhere they went. Can you imagine if you had to announce every disease you had in the supermarket? Flu! Flu! It was their law and it was serious because leprosy was contracted through touch. Not only that, verse 46. "As long as they have the disease, they remain unclean. They must live alone. They must live outside the camp." Can you imagine the horror of living with leprosy in the ancient world? I mean, the medical diagnosis alone would be terrifying, but then the social ramifications of having leprosy were soul crushing. You had to go live alone in isolation. You could only be with other people unless they had leprosy too.
No one could touch you. No one wanted to be close to you. Alone, hopeless, isolation. Sick. This is the context for the story in Matthew 8 and the desperation that comes with this man who enters into the presence of Jesus. He probably came up to Jesus. It's not recorded in the Scriptures, but most likely what he did coming up to the crowd was shouting unclean the whole time. And then we find ourselves in the presence of Jesus.
So here's what I want you to first notice. Matthew 8, verse 3. First thing here is that Jesus reached out His hand and, oh my Lord, He touched the man. Can you believe that? We could just stop there. Let alone the miracle that was about to happen where Jesus healed him of his leprosy, which was as difficult as raising the dead, let alone any of that, the fact that Jesus touched him would have made it in the Bible just because of how radical it was. Extremely profound and powerful. So here's the first thing I want you to write down. It's that touch communicates love in profound ways. Touch communicates love in profound ways. This poor leper probably not had had anybody touch him in years. Years. Can you fathom that? Even somebody here who's not necessarily touchy-feely like where's all my huggers? Where's my huggers? Where's my keep-your-distance-I'll-shake-your-hand? A couple people, like, I don't even like to raise my hand that much Pastor Trevor. And Jesus, this guy ... so no matter who you are, everybody needs some sort of touch. And Jesus starts in and touched him.
Now I like to use my imagination with the Scripture and I would just picture it, that Jesus, now it's not recorded in the Scriptures, this is just in my head. But I imagine that when Jesus reached out and touched his hand, I imagine that there was great tenderness and love and care in his eyes. And so the man not only felt another human being touch him, but he looked into the eyes of love itself. It was transformed by comfort and grace and mercy. It was almost like Jesus touched him and with His eyes said, "I hear you. I see you. I love you. I accept you. It's going to be okay." Touch communicates love in profound ways.
See God has wired us as human beings to give and receive love through touch, some more than others as personality not everybody has touch as their primary love language, but this is just how we're wired. How many of you have seen scientific studies before of babies, the difference between babies who are held, hugged, and kissed versus babies who are not held, hugged, or kissed as much? The ones who are just physically touched more develop into a healthier emotional life every single time. It's science.
Some people, when we're in crisis, when somebody in our family dies, when we experience a major disappointment, when there's a car accident, when somebody's been laid off, when there's a terrible diagnosis, what do we do? We want somebody to hug us. In the same way, in the Scriptures, when it talks to people who are self-identified as followers of Jesus, that if we're going to pray for somebody for whatever they need, the Bible talks about laying on of hands. It's a weird religious terminology, if you just think just put your hand on someone's shoulder and touch them because somehow mysteriously when we touch another human being by putting our hand on their shoulder, by holding their hands when we pray for them, that the Holy Spirit moves upon people and fills people and brings healing to their hearts and their lives and their bodies through touch.
Touch communicates love in profound and powerful ways, and that's why touch is so powerful and touch can be so destructive. When touch is abused in the wrong ways, oh my goodness. Now, don't worry, I'm not going to turn this into a HR seminar of good touch bad touch. We're not doing that today. We're not doing that today. My Lord, use wisdom everybody. Be smart, okay? Be wise. Love somebody with the appropriate boundaries, obviously. But my goodness, there are people in the 561 who just need somebody to give them a hug, who are hurting and need somebody to touch them, to communicate love in profound and powerful ways.
I remember Pastor Dale telling me a story of one of his friends who was going through a really terrible time. It was a hellacious season in his life and somebody, meaning well religiously, was just giving platitudes to him of, "Hey, Jesus is with you and He loves you and hang in there. You're going to get through it together with Jesus." And that's all true, but this pastor friend of Pastor Dale looked back at them and said, "That's great. I believe all that, but right now I need Jesus with skin on, to be here right now." Did you know that if you're a follower of Jesus, you're Jesus with skin on to the 561? And there are people who need you to love them, to be there for them. Because touch communicates love in profound and powerful ways.
Here's the next thing I want you to notice. Back to Matthew and verse 2. It says the man with leprosy came and he knelt before Him and he said, underline this, "Lord, if You are willing, Lord if You are willing, You can make me clean." And then verse 3, "Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man and He said, "I am willing. I am willing."" Wow.
So Jesus touched him, but then He expressed to him His willingness to touch him. Like, Jesus didn't go, "Lord, if you're wiling, You can make me clean." And notice the Scripture doesn't say Jesus reached out His hand and dry heaved and then touched him. "Okay. I can do this. I'm willing." No. With a bold heart, He said, "I'm willing. I'm willing." See, this sermon is not just about literally go hug someone, but it's also about a simple willingness to not just literally but figuratively reach out and touch someone's life. It's a figurative willingness to reach out and touch someone's life. So if you're taking notes, write this down. God moves, God moves when we have a simple willingness to reach out to others. God moves when we willingly reach out to others.
I had ... I hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween. Everyone have a good Halloween? Yup, the favorite part of Halloween for me is the dad tax I make on my kid's candy. It's a good thing. So you guys want to see some pictures of what my kids dressed up as for Halloween? Okay, great, for ten of us, here's my kids right here. There you go. That's Lego Batman and Wonder Woman. Pray for me and my wife. My little girl is way too sassy for three years old. She did the pop the hip and the thumb all on her own. Very fun. It was a great day. Yeah, I know. Go girl, right? Yeah. So fun. So I love holidays. I love doing traditions around holidays and so I made sure that I got pumpkins for my kids, and I made sure that we carved them the night before Halloween because blasted south Florida. If you carve a pumpkin three days before Halloween, on October 30, it'll just implode on itself.
So we were carving our pumpkins the night before Halloween, really excited about it. Now before I show you what were my kid's pumpkins, I saw some ... see, some pumpkins are fun and cute and others like scary and horrifying. Can I show you the scariest one I saw on social media this week? Can I show you that? It was this one right here. Yeah. I'm not sure if I should be flattered that somebody did that to my face, or I should be frightened that somebody did that to my face, right? Ridiculous. All right, get that nonsense off the screen. Here's why my kids carved. They did this. I mean, I did with their help. So it's Batman and Wonder Woman. Batman and Wonder Woman.
Now when we were carving these pumpkins and I took out the top and I pulled it out after we'd drawn on them and colored on them and done all that fun stuff, we're getting ready to scrape out the seeds and the pumpkin pulp. I call it pumpkin guts. I'm like, "Come on kids, this is going to be fun. We're having a dad activity. We're going to get messy. Come on. You're going to want to reach your hand in there, get some pumpkin guts." "Eww, daddy. No. We don't want to touch that." "What do you mean, you don't want to touch it? It's Halloween. You don't get any candy unless you reach your hand into this pumpkin and help me pull this out." "Eww, no daddy! No, no, no, I don't want to." It was like this fight we had at our house. Touch the pumpkin. No. So I just did it all on my own because my kids thought that pumpkin guts are gross and they didn't want to touch it.
So, yeah. Eww. You know, so when we're talking about Palm Beach County, there's some stuff in our county that's hard. And depending on our attitude, we might feel like it's gross and we don't want to touch it and we don't want to reach out. Some of this big societal problems and some of it's just the broken life that we see everyday when we're driving around and going to work and doing life. And part of what I felt like God put on my heart to do here today is to challenge each one of us, to let you know that if you are willing to reach out, even if you don't have it all figured out, if you're willing to reach out, even if you don't know everything you're going to do, you don't have all the answers, if you just have a simple willingness to reach out and touch someone's life, God moves through that. God moves powerfully. If you don't have it all figured out, but you see somebody who needs love and you just know that you're supposed to love your neighbor because Jesus said so, and so I'm just going to reach out not having all the answers but I'm going to love the best way I know how, that's like building a bridge between you and another person that Jesus walks across to touch their life. God moves through our simple willingness to reach out to another person.
Who, this week, do you need to stop and talk to? Who, this week, do you need to give a text message to? Or pick up the phone and call? Or a coworker that you need to stop what you're doing and slow down a little bit and say, "Hey, are you okay?" Or maybe it's a person on the streets who needs help. God moves through your simple willingness to reach out to another person. Are you willing?
Last thing. Let's go back to Matthew. Matthew 8, verse 3. "Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. "I am willing," He said. "Be clean." And immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy." Powerful. When, many of you know I did campus ministry for a long time at Florida State University. It's kind of like college church for students, and we had, in campus ministry world, it was a very large campus ministry and something that Leah and I would do in our work with those students is a couple time a year we would take a large group of them to go on a spiritual retreat for a couple days somewhere in the woods and it was great. Let me tell you, the logistical challenges of making sure that you take 250 college students away for the weekend, making sure they all come back and are all alive, it's a challenge.
And you know one of the greatest challenges was to try and to lead a group of 250 goober Florida State students? It's making sure they didn't get sick. Because they're college students, they don't sleep. Their diet is terrible, their hygiene is terrible. I mean, it's just brutal, especially for the guys. My goodness. And so we would literally ... so the Connect folder you're handed on the way in? Imagine being handed that on a retreat at a campus ministry and one of the pages we would dedicate to every single retreat, big headline. How not to get sick. And we would say in there, like, Mountain Dew and Cheetos taste good, drink water and eat a vegetable too. Ahh! Crazy! And you know what, the thing we literally had to tell our college students to do? We had to tell them, "Wash your hands. Wash your hands a lot, or else everyone's going to get the flu. Wash your hands." Why? Because we contract diseases through touch, just like leprosy.
Now but notice what happens in this passage. Jesus reaches out His hand and touches the man with leprosy, but does Jesus get leprosy? No. Jesus doesn't get leprosy. In fact, craziest of all things, Jesus reaches out and touches the leper and the leper contracts healing. See, the way that the world works is when disease or brokenness or pain or sin reaches out and touches us, we catch it all. But in Jesus' world, in Jesus' life, in His universe, in His kingdom, when He reaches out and touches somebody, it all reverses. Jesus reaches out, touches the leper. The leper contracts healing immediately. Same thing when Jesus reaches out and touches our sin. He doesn't contract our sin, we catch His righteousness. When Jesus reaches out and touches our brokenness, He doesn't become broken. We contract wholeness, health, and healing in our hearts are put back together again. And even when death itself reaches out to touch somebody to take them into the grave, Jesus come and touches somebody. Death flees and resurrection power shows up on the scene. Jesus reverses everything. So write this down. Healing and life and grace and many words I couldn't fit on the screen come through the touch of Jesus. Come through the touch of Jesus.
This is perfect for us, this passage, for us to take communion, to close our worship service here today. Because we're going to have bread and we're going to juice here in a minute. Now notice this, if you're here in the room, and you're not streaming online or podcasting this, to come take communion, you have to come touch this. Somebody's giving you a piece of bread and you have to touch it. Now there's nothing magic about bread and juice. There's not. But when we pray that the Holy Spirit will come upon these symbols, if you approach the symbols with faith, it's almost like you're reaching out to touch Jesus with whatever you need Him to touch in your life.
So here's the final question for this morning. What do you need Jesus to touch in your life? Some of you probably need Him to touch your sin, to touch the guilt and the shame that you've been carrying around and you need Him to free you of those chains, and guess what? He does. You can find freedom here today from all your guilt and all your shame. Some of you, it's not sin you're dealing with. You have a broken heart you brought in here. You need Jesus to touch your heart and life and begin to put things back together again, and He will. Some of you have despair and depression you brought in here today, and you need Him to touch it with His joy, and He will. He will. There's a million different applications, but the truth is the same. Would you bow your heads with me? Let's pray.
So the Scripture tells us that before we come to the Lord's Table and take communion that we need to confess our sins to the Lord. And so I'd like to take a moment to do that now, but we're going to do a little wrinkle, a little different here this morning. If you have sin you need to confess to God, go ahead and do that, but let's let this prayer time be about you telling Jesus what you need Him to touch in your life. Go ahead and take a few moments to do that. Pray this prayer. Jesus I need You to touch this in me. Go ahead and take time to do that now.
Thank you, Lord. I might be wrong, but I just sense by God's Spirit there might be people here in the room where you've never said yes to following Jesus before and you need what I'm talking about. You can let taking communion right now be your yes to becoming a follower of Jesus if that's you. Tell Him you need Him, tell Him you need His forgiveness, His grace and you want His touch on your life and that you want to follow Him. You can say that prayer and come and take bread and juice and He will adopt you as His own right here today. Thank you Lord. iT's in Your name we pray, Amen.
So on the night that Jesus was betrayed, He took bread and He blessed it and He broke it and He said, "This is My body which is given for you. Come and take. Touch this and do so in remembrance of Me." Likewise, He took the cup, He gave thanks for it and He blessed it and He said, "This is My blood, the blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Take and drink. Do so in remembrance of Me." And so, Father, we give You thanks for the greatest thing You have ever done in all of Your works in all of the history of the universe. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave for the forgiveness of sins, the healing of our lives and for eternal life. Thank you, Lord. Pour out Your Holy Spirit now on all this bread and this juice. Make it be for us the body and blood of Christ, and pour out Your Holy Spirit on all of us gathered here, that we may be Your body for a broken and hurting world, and so that we may be Your love for the 561.
- 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.