Friday, April 3, 2009

Human Touch, and Hard to Reach Places

Have living and longing ever been aching neighbors in your soul? Life in a full-contact world with its disloyalties and treasons, its touching-caressing--intimate chasms--ahh, the people I meet often express in words--or without them--a deep and desperate longing to be known. To be touched in some invisible place where touch is life. And surely there is no physical way to reach so far as to touch a soul, unless it be with spirit?

Do you think the woman caught in adultery and brought to Jesus early in the morning--evidently after a night in adulterous passion--do you think she had any aching longings? Do you think the tryst had been planned for a week or so, that she had wept at the kitchen sink thinking of the damage her longing might cause? Was she aching when she rendezvoused for the illegitimate night, or when she was caught and dragged into public--her aches being shouted as accusations into the public gathering? (And what about the guy that evidently was escaping the mob? Where is he?)

I'm thinking of Eleanor Rigby again, but look at each face in the mob, look at the woman facing certain death by stoning. Look at the people watching, and those being handed stones and then look at the face of Jesus. In the midst of all the aching longing in that public courtyard, Jesus alone was ready to touch everyone present in a deep place where no one can reach with a hand, or scalpel. Maybe he was humming Eleanor Rigby?

He disbands the crowd with words that affirm their aching and their futile attempt at release. And then he looks to the woman...fresh from her treason. And instead of seeing the despicable disloyalty, he thinks of her aching longings. That her hopelessness last night had taken her at high risks to a secret place. She had ignored fears of being caught, or of sinning--in hopes of being known. She had thrown caution to the wind and run to the shelter of another soul, hoping to be touched deeply and lovingly. And perhaps she had felt that touch in the night, in his arms. But how quickly hope faded into disaster...until she was touched by Jesus.

Could her aching have been a desire to feel OK? A need to feel that all of her human failures were forgiven? Could she have wanted to know that someone somewhere looked at her and saw beauty, something worth the risk of possessing. Ah, look at all the lonely people.

When the crowd had left, Jesus asked, "Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?"

She answered, "No one, Lord."

Then Jesus spoke the words that reached deep inside of her, to her soul. And they weren't just words, they were healing vibrations--human/spiritual/psychological touch. (OK, divine as well, but I'm really into kenosis for all of you theologians--Phil 2:5-11, or C. Wesley--"He emptied himself of all but love..." But I digress.) He said, I don't condemn you either. Go and stop sinning." (This story is in the Christian New Testament, book of John chapter 8 and verses 2-11--you can find the verses by those tiny numbers before each sentence or so.)

I guess that is why my faith rests in Jesus. Not in a Jesus who says, "Go and stop sinning and then I won't condemn you and I'll think you're OK." But the one who says, "I don't condemn you, I love you. I see your beauty and dignity. Stop seeking life where it isn't."

I'm aching so deeply for a few people right now. And I'm praying for the way to speak peace to their aching longing and living.

Grace and peace to you. You are loved, just as you are, more than you can imagine.


Zee said...

just noticed that you typed this at 5:55AM. *sigh* always envied people who can get up early - i can only make it work for a few weeks (the longest i think was 5 weeks of VBS in Russia and Armenia - getting around 6am every morning... ahh, the beauty of armenian landscape in the morning, the golden touch on the mountains, the sliver of the new moon, and a cup of freshly brewed armenian coffee and Linda Russell for company - can it be any better? ahhh, summer, come sooner.)

re: your post... like i mentioned in skype, it's one of those entries that make me move mentally (i like the letter m) to another time and place and LIVE through a situation...

ahh, the aching and longing for deeper understanding...

Anonymous said...

I am appreciating the writings (books and blogs). I think you are expressing the challenges we face in helping people see that a vital Christian faith is not an exclusive club for the “chosen few,” but an open invitation for all to come experience the wonder of a grace-filled life. I have been convinced that there are many people who have never been told, or have been so beaten down by their failures, that they are not aware of the transformational power available to each person who will believe in Jesus Christ. And, by the way some communities of faith function, it seems like there is NO relevancy to the “outsider’s” life. Reaching those whose lives do not reflect the inner conflict they feel, can be challenging simply because they do not appear to be interested. But I think, given the current social situation, people are going to be forced to reevaluate what really is important in life, and then focus on those things. That is going to reveal some of the bankruptcy of priorities in some lives, because the superfluous issues that have clamored for attention and time will need to be abandoned in the effort to survive the economic realities of life. Whereas, prior to this time people could immerse themselves in trivial activities, of necessity their funds will be more dedicated to essentials and keeping the family solvent. Without all the “Siren Songs” distracting from the inner issues, perhaps families will be pushed to evaluate the direction and purpose of life in general, and for each person specifically.

As in every time of crisis, this is a great opportunity for the Church to be the Body of Christ and model the “Christ-Driven” life. I often wonder what the Church would be like if we actually looked at the many one-to-one encounters Jesus had with people, and modeled our actions, and words after His. I think we wouldn’t be so quick to run the other way, or walk right past those who are obviously struggling with sinful actions. I also think we would be more aware of our sinful attitudes (pride, holier-than-thou) and ask Jesus to help us be a redemptive presence rather than being critical of their faults. Many people who are lost are their own expert critics. They need to be made aware of the redemptive One who can help them be transformed.