Don’t Touch That
By Lisa Nuss
If you’ve spent any time at all with kids, I can almost guarantee you’ve uttered the following words: “Don’t touch that!” Whether it’s a hot stove or a wad of gum that someone spit out on the sidewalk, young children seem inexplicably drawn to touch things that they shouldn’t. But they learn. We learn.
Not only do we learn to not touch things that are hot or sharp, we also learn, erroneously, that there are people or situations that we should avoid. In middle school it’s the girl who doesn’t dress right, the boy who’s a little odd. “Don’t talk to her. You don’t want to be friends with him. If you sit with them at lunch, you’ll never be part of the ‘cool’ kids.” As we become adults, the situations change, and the judgment may be a little more subtle, but the stereotypes and separations still exist where they shouldn’t.
Attitudes like this go all the way back to the Old Testament in the Bible. Under the Old Testament law found in Leviticus, there were quite a few rules and regulations regarding what was considered “clean” and “unclean.” If you were declared unclean for any reason, you were restricted from being in contact with other people and from approaching God in worship. In order to be considered clean again, one had to go through specific rituals that often included some sort of waiting period. Needless to say, no one wanted to be labeled unclean. If a Jewish person touched someone with a serious skin ailment, such as leprosy, they would have definitely been considered unclean. That’s why it’s so significant that Jesus would actually touch lepers – Jews of that day would have stayed far away and avoided those people at all costs! But not Jesus. He came to do away with the old covenant and laws and bring about a new covenant where He would be the way for all people to become “clean” in God’s eyes.
If we’re honest, we all have messes in our lives. Things that we think no one else would want to touch. Maybe things that we don’t even want to touch ourselves. But Jesus does and will! He will come right into your life, into your mess, and He will love you – all of you. Even the messy parts. He also won’t let you stay in the mess! He wants to work in your life and help you to change and move forward into all that He has for you. Will you let Him? Will you reach out and ask Him to help you take care of your mess?
What about those around you who have their own messes? Will you let that scare you away? Or will you look at them and see them as Jesus does? Are you willing to reach out and be a part of their lives? Maybe we need to go back to being more like children and reach out to touch what we “shouldn’t.” Maybe we need to stop listening when the world says “don’t touch that” about someone and be more like Jesus in reaching out to those in need.
Tell about a time you willfully, knowingly broke the rules (and maybe weren’t even sorry!) What happened?
Question 1: Read Mark 1:40-45
How did the leper approach Jesus? What was he unsure of? Have you ever been unsure of God’s willingness to intervene in your life or to heal you in some way?
When the leper came to Jesus, we see that he had no confidence in himself to be healed, but he had complete confidence in Jesus’ ability to heal him. What are some areas of your life where you’re relying on confidence in yourself rather than confidence in Jesus? How’s that working out for you??
Who do you think are the modern day “lepers” in today’s society? Who would you have a hard time “touching”?
In this passage, it says that Jesus reached out and touched the man with leprosy- a seemingly small gesture, but even small gestures of love and compassion can go a very long way. What small gesture can you make to the modern-day lepers or those who are suffering around you? What’s stopping you from doing that now?
What part of your life needs to meet the willingness of Jesus’ intervention?
Ask God to touch those areas of your life that need his healing touch, whether physical, emotional, spiritual, circumstantial, etc. Also ask God to help you see the needs around you and to show you what seemingly small acts of kindness and love you can extend to others around you who are suffering so that you can reflect the love of Jesus to the world.