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Many important messages (particularly religious messages) are never received because, while the content is factual, the delivery lacks the human touch. A check-out girl says in a tired and unconvincing tone, “Thank you for shopping at our store…have a nice day.” A computerized letter begins, “Dear friend…” Or a bumper sticker instructs, “Smile, God loves you.” A sign by the highway reads, “Jesus saves.” What is lacking? The human touch. The warmth and depth that a message has when it is delivered in an obviously caring way. 

There is no substitute for the human touch when it comes to deepening communication, whether it is an actual hug or handshake, or simply a smile or look of keen interest. Did you know that people can die from lack of human contact? Just such a disease exists: It is called marasums (meaning “wasting away”) and usually afflicts the very young and the very old. We need more than just words from others; we also need nonverbal signals that they care. Jesus of Nazareth was one of the most powerful nonverbal communicators ever. His words cut through people’s pretenses and masks, to be sure, but it was his real human touch that made those words powerfully credible.


A leper came to Jesus. The leper is histo-


ry’s most familiar “untouchable.” So someone in the crowd probably gasped when Jesus reached out and touched the diseased man and made him whole (Mark 1:40-42). Jesus’ touch may not have been necessary for the leper’s physical healing, but it probably was critical for his emotional healing. For Jesus knew that sometimes a man with a diseased body can have a diseased self-image as well. So when he healed, he almost always touched - - blind eyes, deaf ears, mute tongues.  

When Gandhi moved among the people of India, they would try to touch him, believing his mere touch could bring them a healing or a blessing. Often he had to have his feet and legs massaged with ointment, because they were so sore and bruised from the people’s touch. Jesus got the same treatment from the crowds of his day (Luke 8:42-48). Doubtless, our Lord spent many evenings tending to the bruises he had earned by being touchable. Jesus had the right touch - - not affected, not sensual, but a gentle, caring touch that reassured others of his genuine interest. No wonder they opened their hearts to him.


(Extracted from Chapter 7 of Ken Durham’s book, Speaking from the Heart.)



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