By J.R. Miller
"Again Jesus said--Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." John 20:21
There was wonderful power in the touch of Christ when He was on the earth. Wherever He laid His hand--He left a blessing. Virtue went out of Him, each time He touched the sick, sad, and weary ones, always giving health, comfort, and peace. That hand, glorified, now holds in its clasp the seven stars. Yet there is a sense in which the blessed touch of Christ is felt yet on the earth. He is as truly in this world today--as He was when He walked through Judea and Galilee in human form! He is with each one of His people. His parting promise was: "I am with you all the days." (Matthew 28:20).
The hand of Christ is still laid on the weary, the suffering, the sorrowing, and though its pressure is unfelt, its power to bless is the same as in the ancient days. It is laid on the sick--when precious heavenly words of cheer and encouragement from the Scriptures are read at their bedside, giving them sweet patience and quieting their fears. It is laid on the sorrowing--when the consolations of divine love come to their hearts with blessed comfort, giving them strength to submit to Gods will and rejoice in the midst of trial. It is laid on the faint and weary--when the grace of Christ comes to them with its holy peace, hushing the wild tumult and giving calm rest of soul.
There is another way in which the hand of Christ is laid on human lives. He sends His disciples into the world to represent Him. "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you" (John 20:21), is His own word. Of course the best and holiest Christian life can be only the dimmest, faintest reproduction of the rich, full, blessed life of Christ. Yet it is in this way, through these earthen vessels, that He has ordained to save the world, and to heal, help, comfort, lift up and build up men.
Perhaps in thinking of what God does for the world, we are too apt to overlook the human instruments and think of Him touching lives directly and immediately. A friend of ours is in sorrow, and going to our knees we pray God to send comfort. But couldn't it be--that He would send the comfort through our own hearts and lips? One we love is not doing well, is drifting away from the Christian life, is in danger of being lost. In anguish of heart we cry out to God, beseeching Him to lay His hand on the imperiled life and rescue it. But could it not be--that our's is the hand that must be stretched out in love, and laid in Christ's name on the life that is in danger?
It is certain, at least, that each one of us who knows the love of Christ, is ordained to be as Christ to others; that is, to show to them the spirit of Christ, the patience, gentleness, thoughtfulness, love, and yearning of Christ. We are taught to say "Christ lives in me." If this is true, Christ loves others through us--and our touch must be to others, as the very touch of Christ Himself. Every Christian ought to be, in a human measure, a new incarnation of the Christ, so that people shall say: "He interprets Christ to me. He comforts me in my sorrow as Christ Himself would do--if He were to come and sit down beside me, and is as helpful and patient as Christ would be--if He were to return and take me as His disciple."
But before we can be in the place of Christ to sorrowing, suffering, and struggling ones, we must have the mind in us, which was in Him. When Paul said, "The love of Christ constrains me" (2 Cor. 5:14), he meant that he had the very love of Christ in him--the love that loved even the most unlovely, that helped even the most unworthy, that was gentle and affectionate even to the most loathsome. We are never ready to do good in the world, in a real sense, or in any large measure--until we have become thus filled with the very spirit of Christ.
We may try help people in a certain way--without loving them. We may render them services of a certain kind, benefiting them externally or temporally. We may put gifts into their hands, build them houses, purchase clothing for them, carry them food, or improve their circumstances and condition. In such a manner, we may do many things for them, without having any sincere love in our hearts for them. Yet this is nothing better than common philanthropy. But the highest and most real help we can give them--is only through loving them.
There is a touching and very illustrative story of a good woman in Sweden who opened a home for crippled and diseased children--children for whom no one else was ready to care. Eventually she received into her home about twenty of these unfortunate little ones. Among them was a boy of three years, who was a most frightful and disagreeable object. He resembled a skeleton. His skin was covered with hideous blotches and sores. He was always whining and crying. This poor little fellow gave the good lady more care and trouble, than all the others together. She did her best for him. But the child was so repulsive in his looks and ways, that, try as she would, she could not bring herself to like him, and often her disgust would show itself in her face, in spite of her effort to hide it. She could not really love the child.
One day she was sitting on the verandah steps with this child in her arms. The sun was shining brightly and the perfume of the autumn honeysuckles, the chirping of the birds, and the buzzing of the insects, lulled her into a sort of sleep. Then in a half-waking, half-dreaming state, she thought of herself as having changed places with the child, and as lying there--only more foul, more repulsive than he was.
Over her she saw the Lord Jesus bending, looking lovingly into her face, yet with an expression of gentle rebuke in His eye, as if He meant to say, "If I can bear with you, who are so full of sin--surely you ought, for My sake, to love that poor suffering child."
She woke up with a sudden startle, and looked into the boy's face. He had awakened too, and he looked earnestly into her face. Sorry for her past repulsion, and feeling in her heart a new compassion for him, a new love springing up into her bosom for him--she bent her face to his and kissed him as tenderly as ever she had kissed a baby of her own. With a startled look in his eyes, and a flush on his cheeks, the boy gave her back a smile so sweet--that she had never seen one like it before. From that moment, a wonderful change came over the child. He understood the new love that had come, instead of dislike and loathing, in the woman's heart. That touch of human love transformed his peevish, fretful nature--into gentle quiet and beauty. The woman had seen a vision of herself in that blotched, repulsive child--and of Christ's wonderful love for her in spite of her sinfulness. Under the inspiration of this vision--she had become, indeed, Christ to the child. The love of Christ had come into her heart.
Christ loves the unlovely, the loathsome, the deformed, the leprous. We have only to think of ourselves as we are in His sight, and then remember that, in spite of all the moral and spiritual loathsomeness in us--He yet loves us, does not shrink from us, lays His hand upon us to heal us. This Christian woman had seen a vision of herself, and of Christ loving her by condescending to bless her and save her; and now she was ready to be Christ, to show the spirit of Christ, to be the love of Christ--to this poor loathsome child lying on her knee.
She had gotten the "touch of Christ" by getting the love of Christ in her heart. And we can get it in no other way. We must see ourselves as Christ's servants, to be to others--what He is to us. Then shall we he enabled to bless every life which our lives touch. Our words shall throb with love, and will find their way to the hearts of the weary and sorrowing. There will be a sympathetic thrill in our lives--which will give a strange power of helpfulness to whatever we do. Everywhere around us, there are lives which, by the touch of our hand, in loving warmth, in Christ's name--would be wondrously blessed.
Someone tells of going into a jeweler's store to look at certain gems. Among other stones, he was shown an opal. As it lay there, however, it appeared dull and altogether lusterless. Then the jeweler took it in his hand and held it for some moments, and again showed it to his customer. Now it gleamed and flashed with all the glories of the rainbow. It needed the touch and the warmth of a human hand, to bring out its iridescence. There are human lives everywhere around us, that are rich in their possibilities of beauty and glory. No gems or jewels are so precious. But as we see them they are dull and lusterless, without brightness. Perhaps they are even covered with stain, and defiled by sin. Yet they need only the touch of the hand of Christ--to bring out the radiance, the loveliness, the beauty, of the divine image in them. And you and I must be the hand of Christ--to these lusterless or stained lives!