Saturday, January 03, 2015



Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.  And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.  And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.”  So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.  Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”  And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.  So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.  (Acts 3:1-8)

Do we practice confrontational Christianity?  If we don’t, then we might wonder if we have the real deal.  Jesus polarizes.  People either loved Him enough to die for Him, or hated Him so much they wanted Him to die.  They bowed to Him as the Son of God, or berated Him as the son of the Devil.  Jesus did not tolerate neutrality.  His entry into the world upset the course of things forever.  His followers would do the same in His name.  Status quo was stripped from the church’s vocabulary.  In the Book of Acts the disciples are referred to as those, “who turned the world upside down” (17:6).  Their preaching started riots.  It was not their intent.  It is just the nature of truth to do so.  It wakens the sleeping dog who snarls and snaps in response.  The Gospel confronts people with the need of salvation because all are sinners threatened with judgment, and the reality that receiving Christ in repentance is the only way to be saved from that sin.

When Jesus healed a lame man at the pool of Bethesda, a tide of opposition mounted against Him, and now as Peter and John heal a man outside the Temple gate in His name, the same crowd will arise in hostility.  Anytime God is at work, Satan will be stirred up.  The church that cowers behind its four walls can be mostly ignored, but the one that invades enemy territory in transforming power will arouse Hell’s ire.

It is hard to explain away the miracle of a changed life.  That is what the crippled man bore witness to in dramatic fashion.  He was a beggar who couldn’t work, content with a few coins tossed his way.  But Peter and John were used to communicate that God had something better.  The miracle drew a crowd.  Astonishment reigned.  What about the nature of our church life—is it amazing or average, miraculous or mundane, dynamic or dull, blessed or boring?  On Sunday morning, do people who have been rocked to sleep in Satan’s arms, snore on, while we nice people put on our nice clothes and go to our nice church in our nice cars to sit in our nice pews and in nice fashion do nothing to awaken a nasty world in need of warning to flee the wrath to come?

You would think everyone would be happy with Peter and John. The Devil’s crowd was not—and they won’t be with you unless you practice some tepid, bland pseudo-faith.  God deliver us from that!

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