One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!”
So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. Act 3.1-7
I love what Peter does and says here. “Look at me” because I’m looking right at you. I don’t have any money, but I can give you Jesus. But he doesn’t stop there. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, he stoops down and he helps him up.
Someone has to say, “Jesus Loves You,” but along with that announcement, we also have to give action. Peter gives the good news and then he helps. Peter touches him. It’s very personal. He gives him his time and attention. He doesn’t heal him from a distance. And notice this, too. It’s as he’s helping him up that his ankles are straightened. As he’s being helped, the man is healed.
The power of the kingdom of God flows through personal presence. It comes through relationships, noticing, seeing individuals. It comes through making time, through getting involved personally. It’s through touch, being present, getting messy, getting involved.
I don’t know what this means for you. I have some ideas of what it means for me. But as a starting point, I know we all need a shift in our posture, that we would go from seeing issues to seeing actual people. That out of friendship, conversation, personal presence, eye contact, God can bring his Kingdom to the hopeless, to people in desperate places.
The starting point isn’t somewhere overseas or even in “inner city” Muncie. The starting point for many of us is probably with our literal neighbors. If we’re not seeing and caring for our actual neighbors, if we don’t know our neighbors’ names, what makes us think we’re going to do this with strangers, with people who are not like us?
There’s another part of this story. Like me, I’m sure you see yourself more like Peter. But what if, just humor me, we’re actually more like the beggar? What if we’re the ones that need healing? What if God is waiting to do something miraculous in us? Do you see yourself that way? Do you know what you need from God and others? Are you willing to ask for it?
Because part of our problem is that we don’t see ourselves as being in any kind of need. (At least not like other people) But it’s true of me and it’s true of you. We’re all lame from birth!! I might not have any pressing physical or financial needs, but I know I’m broken. I have sin. I have family issues and wounds and baggage. I have blind spots and unhealthy biases. I may not need money, but I need friends, support, community, and connection.
See, if I don’t think I have any needs, then it makes it really easy for me to look at someone else and just wait for them to get their act together. The truth is this. I’m not some benefactor who has it all together and goes around helping others beneath me. No!! I’m that needy guy as well.
When we understand that, when we embrace that, it changes everything!
You say you care about the poor? Then tell me, what are their names?