Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Don’t discount the miracle of touch for healing
Touch and touch therapy have been found to be one of the most effective ways of healing. So much that many hospitals these days are teaching nurses touch therapy and many governments are releasing funds for more research and training of touch therapy. This touch is also called therapeutic touch involving touch with and without actual coming into contact with the body. The energy field of the body and the coming together of the energy fields of two bodies and the resulting healing using touch and channelizing of energy has been talked about for many years now. But what about the church and is the church using the power of touch or has the church discounted the power of touch and through that the power of healing?
The priest in church is asked to pray for church members and this is usually done by touching the forehead of a believer or a person who has come to church or whom you have seen in an outside setting. I have come across many people from other religions who have requested prayer even though they were seeing me for the first time. I have come to understand that this is not my greatness or power but the positive energy of spirituality through touch that they are seeking. It is not the power of my hands but the power of touch which Jesus has so effectively shown us through his ministry. This power is so much there and effective. It does not belong to the priest to use according to his whims and fancies but rather to be given freely just like the grace and mercy of God is given to us by God freely. In Daniel 10:18 it is written “Then this one with human appearance touched me again and strengthened me.”
Touch also in church includes much more than the touch for prayer and blessing. It includes our looks, gestures and all that we do while conducting ourselves in church. This leads to touch. Touch is not what we should be ashamed of or reluctant to give but should rather be a part of our conduct in and outside the church. If we are reluctant to touch it means we are reluctant to accept the person we come across and that means we are discriminating against people. Touch has now become such a difficult thing in church because people are watching when two people use the magic and miracle of touch to heal each other. They may pass comments or view touch with judgment even when it is one of the most powerful miracles we can initiate on a regular basis. It is amusing that the church does not allow women to be a part of the ministry of the church and at the same time will also judge a priest who is using the healing power of touch irrespective of gender in the church.
There is also the problem in society of abuse using touch when men without permission touch children and women leading to abuse. The fear of abuse is also making the church and its people paranoid about touch which is such a shame. Touch can only be upon the comfort and the permission of the person we are touching. Any other touch is not acceptable as it will not bring about healing. Even the touch between husband and wife and parents and children has to be with comfort and permission as otherwise it will only be the touch and expression of power and not healing.
What was so special about Jesus’ ministry? Was it that he healed so many people? Yes, but what did he do before the healing process was initiated. He touched people and in all cases he touched the most unlikely people including women, lepers, the blind and the lame. They were all people Jesus was not supposed to touch. In Mark 8:22 we must note what the people did “And they came to Bethsaida and they brought a blind man to Jesus and implored Him to touch him.” In Luke 18:15 touch even brings discomfort to Jesus’ disciples as we see “And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them.” In Mark 7:33 “Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva.” And in Matthew 8:3 “Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” There are many other examples which prove that Jesus touched and touched and touched and thereby the miracle of healing was so prevalent among different kinds of people. He did not leave anyone out.
Today a priest, a missionary, a lay leader and any person who has any role in ministry is given a list of people who are not supposed to be touched. Of course this is not a written down official list but a list which is culturally passed on and expected to be followed. What happens in the process is that the power of healing is lost in church and in the area of ministry. This is sad and wrong. Jesus’ touch was acceptable to the people he touched. He did not touch inappropriately and unwantedly from the perspective of those he touched. He also submitted himself to touch. Such is the healing of touch!
Touch does not just come from above from the bishop, then to the priest, then to the deacon and then to the lay leader. The healing power of touch plays around in various kinds of relationships. This is what we have to revive in church and in the sphere of the church. For that we have to see people equally as otherwise touch will become a very difficult thing to practice. The father and mother have to touch their child/children, the wife her husband and the husband his wife, the child the parent, the siblings, friends and in all kinds of relationships touch will enhance healing and happy living. Even while praying we are unknowingly touching. Folded hands mean that one hand is touching the other. Some hold on to the table, some to the book and some elsewhere. We are all touching because it is part of the healing process of the body.
Isn’t it time we brought back touch? Why are we reluctant to practice healing through touch? Isn’t it because we have unequal relationships, discriminatory relationships and the sins of gender, caste and class posing hurdles? This needs to be corrected in the church context and we have to become Jesus people who use the power of touch to question wrong notions in society and through that perform miracles. Each one of us is a miracle worker. God has given us the unique power of being a miracle worker and the power is in our hand. But unless we exercise it and unless we use it unabashedly without any hurdle we can’t become Christ’s church. We will just continue to be collectives of people who come and go without following Jesus in particular!