The Hands and Feet of Jesus

A GUEST BLOG BY CORRINA JENNINGS

In the church, we often have a language all our own – a sort of “Christian-ese” kind of speech – insider lingo that means nothing to most everyone else, and dangerously stops being meaningful to even us if we aren’t careful.  We churchy-types will pepper our sentences with scripture snacks and trite religious sounding phrases like, “When God closes a door, He opens a window,” or, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” 

This kind of triteness dumbs down the gospel of Jesus Christ and causes us to miss the actual truth of Scripture, because it is buried so far down inside a tweet-able quote.  As ministers of the gospel, we have a responsibility to be intentional with our speech. Our words should be weighty and well-chosen.


One phrase we often hear Christians say is that we are called to be the “hands and feet of Jesus.

But, what does that even mean? 

For me, it conjures up the idea of an army of church members in orange vests picking up litter on the highway (you know…with our actual hands) or marching in a protest for justice (you know…with our actual feet) or doing some tangible act to correct injustice and heal society’s ills. Sometimes, it actually does mean all of that, but we have complicated it. And worse, we’ve buried the truth that’s at the heart of this phrase – so much so that we may not even know what it even means.

The phrase has its roots in I Corinthians 12:27, “For we are members of His body.”  Stop for a minute and think about that.  Wow – we have been grafted into the body of the Perfect One – the very embodiment of LOVE itself – we are now part of that.  What a responsibility!  You see, if I am to be “the hands and feet of Jesus” then I should probably begin by knowing what Jesus did with his actual hands and feet.

Answer:  He loved.

Being the “hands and feet” of Jesus simply means communicating the love of Christ to the people he created. You don’t need to fix all of society’s problems. You don’t necessarily need to wage a culture war for justice as you see it.  You just need to love people.

“This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other."   John 13:35

 Simple, right?   So how DO we love people?

Dr. Gary Chapman, Ph.D  (Philosophy) M.A (anthropology) wrote an entire book about how to speak the language of love practically within the context of human relationships. You’ve probably heard of his book, The Five Love Languages.  In the book, Dr. Chapman lays out five areas of interaction that can help you demonstrate love to those you care about.  His primary frame of reference was marital relationships, but the research about how humans feel loved and valued transcends relational boundaries.  So, for simplicity’s sake, let’s use Chapman’s five languages as our reference guide.

They are;

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time

Gifts

Acts of Service

Physical Touch

So how do we apply this to the church? Let’s do a love check, shall we?

WORDS OF AFFIRMATION – When was the last time you spoke words of affirmation to those in your sphere of influence?  Have you told your boss or employee how much you appreciate him or her?  Have you spoken encouraging words to the person working to serve you in a minimum wage manual labor or retail job?  Have you spoken life to a single mother and told her how amazing she is and what a good job she is doing? 

QUALITY TIME – “The great tragedy of the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor.”― Shane ClaiborneThe Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical

Giving our money is an important way to show love, but time is a rarer and often more precious gift of love. When was the last time you spent actual time with people – people who needed love? I mean, really - ate a meal or enjoyed conversation with them?  Jesus dined with sinners, beggars, lepers, AND his friends. He spent TIME with them.  When you give your time to people, you demonstrate love to them.

GIFTS – Giving gifts is a universally understood and MISunderstood way of showing love. Gifts can be interpreted as superficial, but when they are thoughtful or sacrificial, they communicate love in a very real way.  Jesus gave the most extravagant gift of all – Himself.  Scripture tells us that wherever our treasure is, our heart will also be.  So, being a radical gift giver in the name of Jesus is most definitely a way to embody His love.  Think about your money and your material things.  Can you bless someone else with it this week?  Can you give a gift that costs you something – for no other reason than to communicate love to someone? Groceries for a struggling family?  Baby supplies for a young family?  The gift of a date night for a young couple? Maybe the Lord is laying on your heart to give an extravagant gift to someone – a car or a house or something crazy.  Let the Holy Spirit be your guide, and ask God for wisdom to let HIS love flow through you – for HIS glory!

ACTS OF SERVICE – Sometimes, the basest act can have the most profound impact. Jesus taught us this when he humbled himself to wash the feet of his disciples. Be in the practice of looking for ways to serve others. Ask the Lord daily, “Who can I serve today?”  It might surprise you, but He ALWAYS answers that prayer.  Perhaps you can wash someone’s car?  Trim the neighbor’s hedge or clean their trash cans out for them?  Look for simple ways to go the extra mile, for no other reason than love.

PHYSICAL TOUCH - In our oversexualized culture, this can be a sticky area. We are going to assume that your heart in this is to always be relationally appropriate, so we can get to the point, okay? 

The truth is that God created humans with a desire and a biological NEED for physical affection, and this is not limited to a sexual context.  Scripture is full of references to the power of holy touch, and science reinforces this biblical truth.  When we shake hands, hug or stretch our arm out across a friend’s shoulder, the body releases neurological chemicals like oxytocin and serotonin that feel good and it inhibits chemicals that cause stress.

But touch doesn’t just feel good; it is vital to being human. When babies and children are deprived of touch, their brain development is permanently impaired, hampering their social abilities and resulting in lower intelligence.  Our bodies were created for touch and our lives literally depend on it.

Imagine if the church took a high view of the body as designed by God for intimate physical touch – what would that look like?  Reaching out across the sanctuary to link arms after communion? Healing prayers offered with anointing oil and warm physical touch?  A community of friends gathering to cuddle NICU infants or give manicures or pedicures at the retired living community?  What about holding the hand of a sick or dying church member or offering a hug to a worn out stressed mama? Physical affection offered to the most marginalized of our society can be a particularly poignant way to demonstrate the power of God’s love.  Our physical bodies are a conduit of God’s warm, inviting, intimate and comfortable presence in this cold, stark world and maybe, just maybe, the most powerful tools we have to “be the hands and feet of Jesus” are our actual hands and feet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let your light shine

Written by: Tim Wood

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is called “the true light, which gives light to everyone” (John 1:9). In Matthew 5: 14-16 Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

So, what does it mean to shine? It means:

·       Being counter-cultural. We live in a dark world, full of lies, hate and confusion. But God’s Word tells us to “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12). While others may be living only for selfish gain or chasing illusive dreams, we’re commanded to live a different way—to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14).

·       Putting yourself out there. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others” (Matthew 5:16a). He explained that no one lights a lamp just to hide it under a basket. A lamp is meant to be placed on a stand to give light to everything around it. Whether you’re timid or outgoing, you’re called to be a light to the people around you. That’s only possible if you’re taking time to interact with people and cultivate relationships. 

·       Always pointing back to the light source. When Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others,” that wasn’t the whole sentence. He went on to give the reason why it’s important to shine: “so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16b). Our goal should never be to bring recognition to ourselves, but to bring glory to God. There’s a fine line between being a light and putting on a show to get attention. It’s a matter of the heart.

The “True Light” has given his light to us. Are you shining for Him?

 

 

Choose to think about God

Written by: Tim Wood

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.  (Psalm 77:10-15 NIV)

Psalm 77 is a psalm of Asaph. He’s writing this Psalm to let us know that we don’t have to live with a troubled mind. We don’t have to live with an unsettled spirit. Asaph talks about his distress and his soul which could not be comforted (v. 2).  He was so troubled he couldn’t sleep and had difficulty articulating his feelings (v.3). He was in such a bad place emotionally and spiritually that he thought the LORD had abandoned him. He was questioning the Lord’s love, favor, promises, mercy and compassion (vv. 7-9).

So how did he turn it around? How did he find hope and help? Asaph made a choice, a mental and volitional choice to focus on God’s power and love.  Did you notice he says, “I will”.  This is a volitional choice. I will remember God’s power. I will meditate on God’s deeds.

Here is a practical way you can turn your feelings into praises to God. Sit down with a pen and paper and start listing God’s attributes. Start writing down how God has been faithful to you. It can be recent faithfulness or way back in your past but remember and write it down.  The things that you are writing down are not your feelings; they are facts, they are truth.  And the truth will set you free!!

As you write, you will see, like Asaph, “God’s ways are holy ways. There is no god as great as the living God.” Will you make a choice like Asaph? Will you choose to think about God, his love and faithfulness in your life? Will you choose to remember how God has helped you in the past?  If you will, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.”

Pray for America

The following article was written by Franklin Graham.

The Apostle Paul—who knew what it was like to lose his freedom—wrote to Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:1-3, NIV).

As you pray, ask that your congressional representatives, judges, governors and all others in positions of authority will seek God’s wisdom and guidance.

Gen. George Washington issued this decree on March 6, 1776, calling for a day of fasting and prayer as our country began its long battle for independence:

“Set apart … as a day of fasting, prayer and humiliation, to implore the Lord and Giver of all victory to pardon our manifold sins and wickedness, and that it would please Him to bless the Continental Arms with His divine favor and protection—all officers and soldiers are strictly enjoined to pay all due reverence and attention on that day to the sacred duties due to the Lord of hosts for His mercies already received and for those blessings which our holiness and uprightness of life can alone encourage us to hope through His mercy to obtain.”

The freedoms we now enjoy pale in comparison to the freedom we have as Christians, purchased by Christ’s death on the cross. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2, NIV).

Ask God for wisdom

Written by: Tim Wood

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.  (James 1:5 NLT)

John Wayne, “the Duke” said, “Life is hard. It’s harder when you’re stupid.” That sounds like something John Wayne would say. The Bible would have us flip that saying around. Life is hard. But it’s easier when have God’s wisdom. Not only does that sound better, it’s attainable. God doesn’t want us to make foolish mistakes. God doesn’t want us to be battered and bruised by poor decisions. God wants us to ask him for divine wisdom. When we do, God is generous in giving us his wisdom and he will not rebuke us for asking. The hard part is to ask. The hard part is to admit that we messed things up or we don’t know what to do.

If you want to live a blessed life keep asking God for his wisdom. Trust God to guide you. Obey the word of God whole heartedly. When life knocks you to your knees, you are in a great position to ask God for wisdom. And remember these words from 1 John 5:14-15, “And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.”