Take a good look at your hands. You can use them for good or ill. With your hands, you can bless or beat someone.
While God is a Spirit, without hands like human hands, the Bible frequently refers to the “Hand of the Lord.” The early church, following the resurrection of Jesus, grew because “the hand of the Lord was upon them.” God’s hand is symbolic of his blessing.
To illustrate the nature of God, some theologians have suggested that God has two hands. With one he offers us mercy and forgiveness; with the other he offers us discipline and judgment.
Poets and songwriters have often used the symbolism of the hands. Who does not love the way Myra Brooks Welch describes in her poem “the touch of the Master’s Hand.” Think also of the wonderful songs we love to sing about our hands or the Lord’s hands, such as “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”
Years ago, Elvis Presley popularized the simple song “Put Your Hand in the Hand of the Man from Galilee.” The lyrics remind us that we see others “differently” as a result of putting our hands in the hand of Jesus. Being rightly related to Jesus does result in love of others.
Hands of love
The hand, of course, may be used either in touching or terrifying ways.
The hand of a skilled surgeon can save lives with a scalpel. The same instrument, in the hands of an evil person, can kill someone.
Across our world, men and women extend their hands to one another as an expression of welcome and friendship. A warm handclasp can express tender feelings of love and joy.
In the New Testament, there is a tender story of the time Paul was received by the disciples in Jerusalem following his Damascus Road conversion.
When Paul met the disciples, they were afraid of him, fearful that he was faking his identity as a Christian. Then, something beautiful happened. Luke describes it this way: “Barnabas, however, took him by the hand and introduced him to the apostles” (Acts 9:26).
Surely it was the Holy Spirit who guided Barnabas to take Paul’s hand and lead him into the circle of faith. Today this same Holy Spirit is touching the hearts of people across the world and moving them to offer hands of love to others.
Sadly, the media reports to us only acts of violence when hands are used to hurt and kill others. But that is not the whole story.
In a world filled with hatred, racism and divisiveness, many of God’s people are joining hands in acts of kindness to create a more gentle world in which to live. God is blessing these efforts, helping us build bridges of friendship across racial and economic lines.
Take a good look at your hands. They can become instruments of climate change. You can change the climate of hatred in our society by joining hands with others in deliberate acts of kindness. Begin today!
Walter Albritton is a Methodist minister and writes a weekly column for the Opelika-Auburn News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.