There’s something about physical touch that brings comfort and stability in an uncertain world. The New Testament is filled with stories of Jesus touching those around Him. He laid His hands on women who had been scorned, children who were dancing at His feet and lepers ashamed of their faces.
In this world of virtual relationships, conversations managed via electronic devices and fear of inappropriate touch, I wonder if we are losing our physical connections to each other. And yet God designed us to need touch. In fact, it is critical to our health-both emotional and physical. Babies need touch for their brains to develop and children need touch for their emotions to develop. Experts say appropriate touch has a profound effect on the brain’s programming and re-programming.
Perhaps it’s time to become more intentional about offering loving and appropriate touch to others. We all need it, but often find it’s awkward to accept and offer. My immediate family is very comfortable with touch, as my children have grown up with lots of physical affection. But I have to be intentional about reaching out to others in gentle and creative ways.
I have discovered reading the New Testament that the first believers were very affectionate with each other. In fact, at the end of Acts 20, we read that all the believers embraced and kissed Paul as he was leaving for a journey. They were also encouraged to greet each other with a holy kiss.
While I realize not everyone is ready to be touched with such intimacy, I am challenged to bring healthy touch into my relationships in greater measure. Whether it’s a hug, pat on the head, stroke on the arm, or a holy kiss, touch is needed in our society. Maybe if we brought more healthy touch into our relationships, people wouldn’t be driven to seek it in inappropriate ways.
For whatever reason, God designed us to need the physical touch of others. The next time you are at church, a family get-together or out with friends, challenge yourself to offer healthy touch to two or three people, especially those seniors in your midst. Become the person who offers a hug, rather than waiting for one.
“Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed'” Mark 1:41