What Does It Mean to Be Touched By God?

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woman in auditorium raising hands in worship

I am sometimes puzzled when I read statistical data regarding the growth of Christianity – especially in Western countries.

The Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary published the results of their findings earlier this year regarding the growth of Christianity globally, which states that there are currently 2.3 billion Christians worldwide, and the number will reach 3.3 billion by 2050.

Considering the world population is currently around 8 billion, this puzzles me.

By 2050, Christianity will make up nearly 1/2 of the world population, and yet are we making a meaningful difference in our culture?

A simple cursory glance at our culture today should cause us to question what we consider a “Chrisitan” to be because:

  • Violence is out of control, murder is taking over our streets
  • The drug crisis is out of control as fentanyl claims the lives of tens of thousands each year; while leaving addicts imprisoned to its demonic hold
  • Alcoholism is on the rise, particularly among suburban mothers
  • Pedophilia is on the rise, as Pride parade marchers declare that they’re after our children

In our wildest imaginations, we couldn’t imagine even just 10 years ago that our culture would be where it is today.

And yet here we are.

Where are the 2.3 billion Christians rising up for righteousness, holiness, and the protection of our innocent children?

Or maybe our definition of Christian and God’s definition of Christian are not the same.

What Does It Mean to Be Touched By God?

My dad, author of Foundational, has recently stopped calling himself Christian, opting for the term “disciple of Jesus Christ” instead.

He began to witness the trend of everything becoming Christian: from mugs and t-shirts to music and everything in between.

The move to make “Chrisitan” a marketing term has so diluted its meaning that it resembles nothing of what it used to represent in the times of the Early Church, during times of horrific persecution under the brutal Roman Empire.

Now you can be a gay Christian marching in a Pride Parade and support “Drag Queen Story Hour” for children in our libraries.

But what does the Bible say?

Does God’s Word illustrate for us a different result when God truly changes our lives?

In our study of the book of Genesis so far, we’ve seen quite the colorful collection of characters.

Adam – through whom sin entered the world
Noah – who, after God’s miraculous deliverance of him and his family, got drunk and exposed himself
Abraham – who displayed both astounding faith and confounding lack of faith
Isaac – who much like his father lied about his wife to save his own skin

And we get to Jacob, whose name means “supplanter”, or schemer, one who takes over by force.

He swindled his brother out of his birthright and his blessing.

Esau was so angry at him, he had to flee to his uncle Laban’s where he met his match in the art of swindling.

After 20 years, he was finally able to sneak away before Laban caught up with him, trying to manipulate him to come back.

But Jacob is strong-willed.

Despite the earlier picture of Jacob as a delicate, tent-dwelling, mama’s boy – in contrast to his strong, rugged, hunter brother Esau – clearly, we see here that Jacob has a will of iron – having worked 14 years just to marry the woman he truly loved.

Refusing to return to Laban’s home, he begins his long journey back to Bethel.

On the journey, he learns that he’s about to encounter Esau, the brother from whom he had to flee in order to save his life.

In Genesis 32, unsure of what he is about to face the next day, he is left alone – and begins to wrestle “a man”.

At first, we don’t understand who this man is, until we read two passages that give us more clarity.

He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and in his strength he struggled with God. Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; he wept, and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel, and there He spoke to us—

Hosea 12:3-4

So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

Genesis 32:30

The man was, in fact, preincarnate Jesus Christ.

And what a dramatic story we have, here!

He wrestles this Angel – preincarnate Christ for hours – all night long, and the Angel does not get the upper hand.

The Angel finally touches the socket of his hip and Jacob is permanently injured.

And still, he continues to wrestle and not let go. The Angel finally says, “Let me go, for the day breaks.”

But Jacob still doesn’t pull back, saying, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”

The Angel asks him what his name is.

Now, we know that God knew Jacob’s name. He wasn’t asking Jacob’s name because He needed that information, He wanted Jacob to reveal himself as supplanter, swindler, cheater.

This is not only what Jacob did – it is who he was. It was his identity.

But tonight, Jacob is going to get a new identity!

The Angel bestows on Jacob a new name: Israel: God prevails, one governed by God.

He would no longer be a swindling cheat, but a man governed by God!

And the Angel blessed him and left.

Jacob – now Israel – lives the rest of his life visibly touched and transformed by God, as he will now for the rest of his life walk with a limp, and have a new name.

A new identity.

He will never be the same.

What does it mean to be touched by God?

A touch from God transforms our lives in a way that makes it impossible for us to ever be the same again.

Israel would never walk normally again.

He would never be called Jacob again.

Just as Abram and Sarai were given a new identity and would forever after that be Abraham and Sarah.

Just as Simon (pebble) was given the name Peter (rock) and was forever after only called Peter

Just as Saul (desired) was transformed and given the name Paul (little or small) and forever after was only called Paul.

God’s touch permanently transforms our lives.

The angel touched Jacob at his hip so that he would become so weak, he could no longer wrestle; indicative of his strong will.

Jacob could no longer be strong-willed, sneaky, cheating Jacob.

Now he would be God-directed Israel.

He touches us in the area that is our greatest hindrance from being able to fulfill the plan and purpose for our lives so that we are forced to rely on Him and not our own strength.

We will be God-directed.

He will be more than Savior to us, He will be Lord.

Has God touched you in this way? Have you allowed Him to touch you at the very core of who you are so that everything that defines who you are is permanently altered?

Have you allowed Him to leave a visible mark on your life that redefines your identity?

This is what a true touch of God will do for you.

You will never be the same, and you will never want to be the same!

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  1. This really touched me. Thank you for sharing. I experienced a terrible car accident 9 years ago that caused me to have a traumatic brain injury. God spoke to me literally seconds before it happened telling me to put both hands on the wheel, look straight ahead and keep singing the hymns I had been singing. As I processed what had happened over the next few years I was so confused. I knew He had been with me, had let it happen even, yet my pain and suffering was so great and my mental decline was so awful, that I came to despair of wanting to live. Eventually, through much physical therapy, food & supplements I was able to reach my new normal- which was exactly that “normal, average IQ”. I struggled with that until I realized that my huge intellect had kept me from truly becoming the person of faith God was helping me to become. Yes, I’ve had that Jacob/Israel moment and while my brain is no longer mensa level, I am all the better for it.

    1. What an incredible story and testimony you have to share! I am so honored that you chose to share that with me — God is so faithful to help us come to where He is, even if things don’t always go the way we’d envisioned. You truly have been touched by God!

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