Oh, my poor, sweet, white-knuckling honey. He tells me daily he worries about me, to which I respond, “There’s no need.” Then I lose my wedding ring in the laundry hamper before climbing into my van to casually back out … into a half-opened garage door. Nope, no need to worry at all. I’m not flighty. I’m just a bit distracted, with my head plunged in my next story, radio-drama, or article while reality passes through my peripheral vision. But, oh! If I could begin to live with my eyes wide open, not just to the signs and street-bumps, but to the people God places in my path.
When we lived in Southern California, I read and tried to live out The Prayer of Jabez. The thrust of the book is about asking God to expand your boundaries (for proclaiming Christ) then being alert to the God-moments that arise. The results shocked me. Every day, from the playground to the grocery store, God brought people into my path ready to hear the gospel. Why? I don’t believe it was because of the book or some mysterious prayer, but instead, because He knew I’d seize the opportunity. He knew I was walking with my eyes wide open, ready to proclaim His love and truth. And that’s what it’s all about. Christian, that’s the whole reason you’re here. Not to build a home or nest-egg, but to point continually to the famous One and God of all comfort.
In Acts chapter 3, Peter and John head to the temple to take part in the afternoon prayer service. While in route, they met a man lame from birth. I imagine the temple gates and surrounding area was much like downtown Seattle or Kansas City with the homeless lining the sidewalk with outstretched hands. I’m sure many walked by, but I imagine many gave. Perhaps some even offered a prayer, focusing on the physical need, then moving on.
But Peter and John, although moved by compassion, kept their eyes on a bigger picture.
4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Peter Speaks to the Onlookers
11 While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?
There’s a lot of powerful truth packed in that little passage.
1. Peter looked straight at the man. And to this you all say, “Amen!” and “Uh-huh,” as if this is a normal and expected reaction. But let us not forget how we feel walking down main street, passing by those men with matted hair, dirt-packed fingernails, and a thick stench emanating from their body. It’s not easy to look them in the eye, is it? In fact, it’s much easier to avoid them, to pretend we don’t see.
2. Peter addressed the man’s immediate need. Preaching a sermon or saying a prayer is great, but love moves beyond that. Love sees the person, notices their deepest need, then makes every attempt to meet it. This may mean baby-sitting for a single mom, going grocery shopping for the elderly, or providing meals for the homeless. There are as many needs as there are ways to meet them. If we want to accurately represent the love of Christ to a hurting world, we’ll actively follow in Christ’s footsteps.
3. Peter saw the man’s deepest need and pointed to the solution. There are countless humanitarian programs out there, but unless rooted in Christ, they lack the power to create long-term change. A sack lunch will be eaten and digested. A home will house a family but won’t heal a marriage. But a life grounded in Christ moves to healing, to wholeness, to rational-thinking and reconciliation, and ultimately, to the life here-after where there will be no more pain and tears.
4. Peter used the opportunity the miracle provided to create a Jesus-loving buzz.
Like Steven Curtis Chapman says in his fun song, “Every Little Thing,” everything we do must be done for the glory of God. Instead of patting himself on the back and walking away from a job well done–which it was. I mean, come on, they’d just healed a man!–Peter saw an opportunity, an open door:
11 While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? … “
Lord, may we live with our eyes wide open, ever aware of the needs all around us. May we, like You, see the physical and spiritual needs, and may we use every opportunity to point others back to you, the God of all comfort and truth.
Let’s talk about this!
Join me at Living by Grace as we talk about ways to live with our eyes wide open, making the most of every opportunity, continually pointing others back to Christ.
What about you? Has God asked you to let go of something? What made that hard? And what was the result?