At what point in a new relationship does someone feel the most secure and loved? For many, the pivotal moment came when their significant other declared their love for them for the first time. For others, love and security arrived through no defined “moment,” but through endless acts of love and service. Why do words mean so much to some people and not so much to others? Is there more power in the actions of the day to day, instead of the words that we say to each other?
Over the past few months, I have been thinking about the many interactions that took place between Jesus and those He met with. I have been pondering what it must have been like to sit at Jesus’s feet or be close enough to touch His clothing as He walked by. But one thing that has been on my mind is how He transformed lives. I know it can sound cliche and high-level to say that Jesus “transforms,” (if it’s even okay to think that anything about Jesus could be considered cliche,) so I want to instead focus on why Jesus transformed people’s lives through acts of healing rather than by saying, “I love you,” and letting that sink in.
After much thought and a few chapters from Brene Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection,” I think it comes down to worthiness. If you consider the various characters of the Bible, you will find that many of them had a background of slavery, inadequacy, or that they lived a life that was deemed as unfavourable; such as our friend Matthew, the tax collector. Because of their background, shame and guilt were most likely emotions that pushed away any feelings of worthiness or love. So why then didn’t Jesus tell everyone that He met that God loved them? That Jesus, himself, loved them? Do you think these people would have believed Him? I don’t think so, which is where acts of healing come in.
Consider the man with leprosy that Jesus healed in Matthew 8. Leprosy kept the man segregated from society and most likely created a deep pit of shame in his very being. When Jesus healed this man of his physical sickness, I believe that Jesus also showed the man how worthy he was of love; and not just the love of another person but the love of Christ, the son of God! For someone who may have given up on ever being loved, this act of healing not only would have transformed the man’s body but would have, quite possibly, transformed his life! I’m sure that in the days, months and years after this man encountered Jesus, he was reminded that he was someone worthy of healing… someone worthy of love, with every glimpse of his reflection.
Now, I don’t mean that because this man was healed of a physical deformity that he was now worthy of love. I instead mean that because Jesus showed this man that he was valuable and that he was His child, that he could finally believe with his heart that he was worthy of living a life free of disease and shame…. that he was worthy of love in all its many forms.
So, do actions speak louder than words? I think so. I believe that when we know that we are worthy of love by how we are treated and cared for by others, that we believe that we are worthy of love on a heart level. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Christ came to show the love of God and transformed lives through acts of healing or even deep conversation with the lowliest of peoples. I believe that through each person that He touched, each person that He called forth, and each person that He inspired with His teachings, that He showed a deep and unending love. A love so great and complex, yet so pure and unconditional.
We are not just worthy of love. We are destined to be loved and to love others, by the one who first loved us.