Christians Under Plexiglass

"Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' He replied, 'Be clean'. And immediately the leprosy left him." Lk 5: 13

By far, the most amazing thing—in fact, I believe, the most healing thing!—was that touch! Don't you agree? I don't know how long that poor man had suffered from his leprosy, but I can guarantee you this: for that same long duration of time, he had never felt a human touch!  I believe the healing began the moment that holy Hand began to move! 

God does powerful things when we can 'touch' the lives of the hurting. Are you ready to do those, dear ones?

Way back in 1981 while we were serving in Taiwan, I got a phone call one morning from a tiny little widow who was one of the great missionaries of all time. Perhaps her name is familiar to some of you: Lillian Dickson, the founder of Mustard Seed Ministries. There have been several books written about her and even a movie, I believe, about her heroic effort to rescue an entire village from lead poisoning. 

By the time we were serving there, Lillian Dickson was in her eighties and she was drawing more and more on other missionaries to help her with her work. On that particular day, she called me to come and preach to her congregation of lepers. Almost 200 of these sad, suffering ones were meeting every Sunday in the little chapel of the Leprosarium that Lillian had founded, way up in the hills of Hsin Chu, miles from civilization, far removed from all humanity. 

It's an experience I have never forgotten. It was shocking to realize that, in our day and age, there were still so many people afflicted with this horrible disease. All the way up the mountain, Lillian was telling me about this precious work of hers. 

When we finally pulled up at the entrance of the place, Lillian looked over at me and asked a question that sounded like a test: "How do you feel about visiting with some of the people before you preach?" I said I was fine with it and she said: "Oh good! Not everyone is you know." 

Well, I already knew that leprosy was not as contagious as all the legends and movies make it out to be. Frequent, recurrent physical contact is the only way it can spread. 

We went together into the sanctuary and visited with the people who were just arriving for worship. I got to greet almost all of them, row by row. It was quite a sight: people with faces terribly deformed, with extremities wounded and sometimes missing. All of them in various stages of decay! 

That was unforgettable enough, of course, but even more so was the fact that they had smiles on their faces. There were no exceptions! In the midst of all that suffering, Christ was making a difference! 

When the worship service was about to begin, Lillian led me up a little flight of steps to a raised platform that overlooked the sanctuary. There was a pulpit there in the middle of the platform and a couple of chairs further back where Lillian and I would sit. As the two of us stood up there, however, singing the opening hymn, I finally noticed one more thing: the plexiglass! The entire platform where the pulpit was—where the preacher stood—was "protected" by a layer of clear plexiglass. I had never seen anything like it before! It separated the preacher from that sad congregation! 

During the third verse of the opening hymn, I could contain myself no longer. I leaned over and asked: "Lillian, what's with the plexiglass?"  She smiled, shook her head and then said something I will never forget: "Believe it or not, if I don't keep that plexiglass, I won't get enough preachers to come preach." 

I couldn't believe my ears! What a shocking thought! Preachers under plexiglass! And thinking that, somehow, they might reach somebody! 

"Well, what about you?" I asked her. "I'll bet you don't speak from up here."  

"No," she replied, "I speak from down there."  then she pointed to a little microphone, down at the floor level, right in front of the pews, right among the people; on the other side of the plexiglass. 

Lillian was no great speaker and she knew it.  And she was strict in insisting that men fill her pulpit. So, whenever she could, she invited pastors to come. 

But I'll guarantee you one thing: those people down below knew who was most like Jesus! And it wasn't the preachers behind plexiglass! It was Lillian Dickson! Christ Himself was still touching lepers through the ministry of that woman. 

I don't know how you feel about it, but I don't want to be a Christian "under plexiglass". I don't want to stand, at the end of my days, before God and confess that all I did was protect myself! Do you? 

No! I want to be able to say in the end that I reached out and touched somebody; touched the ones who most needed the touch! One of the great qualities of every true Christian is the ability to 'reach out' when others turn away! You are one of them dear ones! Let CCOT be the place where hurting lives are 'touched' and transformed. 

Remember that strange and beautiful challenge in the Scriptures? "Keep on loving one another as brothers; and do not neglect the welcoming of strangers for, in so doing, some have entertained angels unawares." Heb 13:1-2

Isn't that an awesome thought? 

There's a beautiful legend about a 1st Century pastor who encountered a leper in the plaza of his town. The poor man was dreadfully afflicted with it: frightfully white from head-to-toe.  The pastor was petrified; he recoiled in dread. But then he remembered "I'm a pastor. I must do this." Courageously, he walked up and gave the poor man an embrace; placed his hand on his head and said a prayer for God's mercy and healing. 

The sick man said not a word. 

After the pastor had moved on a few steps, he stopped and looked back...and the sick man was gone! That evening in his journal he recorded the words: "I believe I met an angel, during my walk into town."  Oh yes, he might very well have!

See you Sunday dear ministers!   RAS

Playing with Tigers
Your Ministry of Reconciliation