Week 5 of The Way: a new series on the Book of Acts
Acts 4:1-31 (Hear Dan Jacobs' sermon here)
Go Deeper Passage:
In Acts 3-4, we see an incredible story of fully alive faith.
Peter and John are gathered in the temple for their daily prayer time. While there, a man who has been lame for over 40 years approaches them to ask for money to help him in his challenges. This was his daily rhythm. Asking day after day after day for help from strangers. When Peter and John saw him, they asked him to look at them and told them that they didn't have money but that they would give him what they did have. By the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus, they reached out their hand to him. They took him by the hand and in trust of God said, "walk". They lifted him up and he was healed. His ankles and feet were strengthened underneath him and he leapt for joy. He celebrated and praised God so loudly that people saw his healed body and recognized him. They were shocked.
The crowd's shock was shocking to Peter.
This group of God followers were gathered at their holiest space to interact with God but couldn't believe when God healed someone in their midst. What were they expecting? The apostles quickly told them that it wasn't their own strength but by their faith in the Jesus who these religious people killed that God healed the beggar's body. They spoke truth to the religiously ignorant. They showed them how they both crucified Christ and believed that God had no power in their world.
Peter and John invited them to stop believing these lies. He showed them how Jesus was the fulfillment of their entire story as religious leaders and people. He called them to repent and become a people who receive "God's time of refreshing." To be healed and made alive again. To stop living as if God used to do important things, and to start living as if he were their living story today. To let him be the only one who can offer them salvation, because he is the only one who can.
Does this sound familiar?
It should. Too often it is our story. We settle for so much less than a God who is alive and speaking to us every day. We accept less than life to the full in Jesus. We are contented by our material, consumeristic, and successful comforts. We believe we need to add something to Jesus to find our courage to follow Him. We think that Christ alone will not satisfy us. We refuse his healing for the security of things that are here today and gone tomorrow.
Instead, these Disciples were looked upon as courageous. Yet, they were simply "unschooled, ordinary men" (4:13). The only thing that made them different was that it was evident that they had been with Jesus. Not once, not in the past, but in real time. This stumped the opponents of the good news. They asked Peter and John to stop telling people about Jesus, but couldn't deny the fruit of their healing presence. Even better, Peter and John said that they couldn't stop telling people about Jesus. They were seeing and hearing God move too abundantly. They had seen God's faithfulness. They had a living salvation. Their whole life was centered on their savior. They had no other securities or fall-back plans. He wasn't an add on or a religious activity. He was their resurrection, hope, and life. Their story offers a hand up to our lameness too.
Peter and John were ordinary like you and me, but knew that their God was anything but average. Do you?
Do you believe that God's healing presence is alive and at work in your life? In our world? That Jesus is the only way, truth, and life? That he is offering you a hand up from living a lame life or settling for less than His full presence in your world?
How could our community become a place where other's experience healing? How could you be a more active healing presence in other's life at ASC? In Seattle? In your workplace? In your home? In your family? In your friendships?
How can you give away your faith away in a tangible way like Peter and John did to the man who couldn't walk? How can your faith be more than just "your faith"? Who needs a hand up in your life that you avoid to get back to religious distance instead?
Jesus: Be silent and alone with God. Turn off your devices and distractions. Ask God to give you what you need from him to heal you physically, spiritually, emotionally, or relationally? Receive what Jesus gives you in response.
People: Push past your fear and comfort to share your life with others. In your ordinariness, find 1-2 people you know and open up to them about where God is inviting you to healing and new life. Ask them to help you live in to this calling or nudges you are receiving?
City: If you are afraid of sharing Jesus with your neighbors, co-workers, or family, discern one way you can risk in courage and do so. Distinguish the difference between how God is calling you to share Him and how people will respond. Be wise but unafraid. Pray for someone else's healing. Give what you have (Jesus' hope) to those who need it.