A blog in the series of Loving Freely, by Dan Crain.

 

 

Who touched me? 

Wait, what?

How can Jesus know who’s touching him in the midst of the crowd all around him? People are pressing in around him all over the place. 

There’s so much activity going on in Mark 5; Jesus has just healed a demon-possessed man, crossed over the other side of the Sea of Galilee, been asked to heal Jairu’s daughter and is now walking through a large crowd pressed all around him.

As he’s walking through the crowd, he’s touched by a woman who’s sick and Jesus instantly knows that power has gone out from him. The disciples are amazed by this and say, “You see the people crowding against you, and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’” (Mark 5:31)

The woman comes up behind Jesus and touches the tassels on the outer garment that he’s wearing. This is significant as to which part of the garment, the tassel she touches. Dwight Pryor says, “The tassel or tzitzit therefore is a powerful visual symbol: first, as a reminder to keep all God’s commandments, and second, as a sign of the authority and rule of God.”

The Hem of His Garment (actually means the tassel) According to Numbers 15:39, these tassels served as a sign to help the wearers “recall all the commandments of the LORD and observe them so that you do not follow the lustful desires of your heart and eyes.” The woman touches the holiest part of Jesus’ garment and power leaves him. 

How does Jesus know that someone touches him while the crowd is pressed all around him? Jesus is so aware of himself emotionally that he instantly knows when power leaves him. Jesus is God’s son whom the Father declares over him in chapter 1, “You are my Son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.”

Jesus is fully God, but he is also fully human and because he’s fully human, he’s very aware of what’s happening all around him. It is because Jesus knows he is God’s son, who is loved and who is well pleased that he can be aware of what’s happening all around him.

Loving Freely is based on following the model of Jesus in the gospel of Mark. All throughout this gospel we see Jesus loving others freely because he is freely loved by the Father. And this story in Mark 5 is a beautiful example of this. 

As reconcilers, we are called to follow the example of Christ and all the ways that he loved others well.

The question then becomes to those who are in the ministry of reconciliation and justice, are we aware of what’s leaving us? Do we notice when effort, energy, love or emotion is leaving us? Are you constantly giving and never in a place of receiving?

A friend in the ministry of reconciliation and justice said to me recently, “I love helping people and it takes a lot of energy to do so.” Helping people does take a lot of energy. Living into the ministry of reconciliation and justice can literally leave you completely empty and drained.

 

What sorts of things are draining you? 

Who’s asking your for things that leaves you exhausted?

Are you saying yes when you should be saying no? 

Are you constantly giving and never in a place of receiving? 

Did someone’s pride and lack of getting their approval set something off in you?

What are you feeling and sensing in the work of reconciliation and justice?

 

Leaders in the ministry of reconciliation burn out because they live unaware lives not understanding what’s leaving them. 

At my unhealthiest moments in running Thirkield University, (a program for young men in our neighborhood), I would give and give and give until I was completely empty. I was not aware at all of the emotion or love that was leaving me and I was operating out of my family of origin believing I was never good enough and constantly needing to prove myself. 

When I am not rooted in Christ and loving freely from my Island of Peace, I am not aware of the emotion and energy that’s leaving me. This leaves me exhausted, bitter and resentful when I don’t get what my false self wants.

Because of this and many other factors, I burned out and became another statistic that Desire Street Ministries based their research on, “Studies show that a vast percentage of the leaders of urban ministries last less than five years in their work. The pressures are tremendous, and the discouragement that accompanies it can be devastating.”

Pete Scazzero in the Emotionally Healthy Leader says, “Unhealthy leaders lack, for example, awareness of their feelings, their weaknesses and limits, how their past impacts their present, and how others experience them. They also lack the capacity and skill to enter deeply into the feelings and perspectives of others. They carry these immaturities with them into their teams and everything they do.”

Because we are called to follow Christ and have been in-dwelt with with his Spirit, we are called as ministers of reconciliation to be aware of what’s leaving us. We see Jesus all throughout the gospel retreating retreating to be alone with the Father in prayer. I often wonder what is Jesus doing in that space in prayer to the Father? I believe he’s processing what’s happened to him during the day and in which ways the Spirit had moved and also acknowledging what events had drained him.

God has created us to love others freely in the creation narrative. He created us to love others with boundaries and to be aware of when we know emotion and love is leaving us. 

At its core, Loving Freely is about paying attention to what’s happening inside of us as we love and serve others and to practice awareness of the emotion that’s leaving us.

When I am not rooted in Christ and loving freely from my Island of Peace, I am not aware of the emotion and energy that’s leaving me. This leaves me exhausted, bitter and resentful when I don’t get what my false self wants. When I am off my Island of Peace in Christ, my false self loves to give and give and give and never take breaks. This leaves me depleted, exhausted and burnt out. I become angry, frustrated and resentful to others for not changing fast enough. 

But, when I am rooted in Christ and living on the Island of Peace in my soul, I move slowly, thoughtfully, prayerfully and am fully aware of God’s spirit in me and around me leading me to love others freely. I am able to do this despite the intensity of the moment or how hard the situation is. 

Jesus moved slowly, thoughtfully and intentionally all throughout the gospel of Mark as God’s beloved child, and he calls us as reconcilers to do the same.

After all, it’s his work, not ours.

 

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We look forward to partnering with you at our community building studio and museum.

Andy Odle
ANDY ODLE, M.DIV., PH.D.

Executive Director of REMERGE