How do you follow up a testimony where 3,000 souls are added to the church in a day? Well, Luke goes on to tell us about Peter and John’s encounter with a lame man at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful.
This man had never walked a day in his life! No, not even with a crutch! From birth, he’d been this way. Never known anything different.
Apparently, he hadn’t learnt a useful trade either. There are some pretty amazing people out there who were born into this world physically disadvantaged, but seem to be rising above the odds: Nick Vujicic, Jen Bricker, Tisha Shelton and Richie Parker, just to name a few! But the lame man in Acts 3 was a beggar.
No-one would blame him – it totally made sense that his life would turn out as such. Besides, being lame was probably a greater plight back then than it is now. Today, you drive to work to sit all day! And with technological advances, if it’s a mechanized activity, it can be adapted for anyone’s use! But not so back then.
Still, it strikes me, that all this man had ever known, was to depend on others for his sustenance.
So there he was at his usual spot, begging for alms, when Peter and John make him a scary offer; in essence they say “we’re not going to give you a fish, we’re going to teach you how to fish…”
That’s good news! If you’re into fishing. But what if all you want to do is eat the fish and you don’t care much for the process of acquiring the fish? The ability to walk means the elimination of your excuse not to work! Do you really want to walk?
Any kind of change can be scary! And what Peter and John proposed to do would mean a complete overhaul of this man’s reality! Everyone knew him as the guy who sat at the Beautiful gate and begged – his very identity was going to change.
Is it possible that God offers us a complete overhaul but we reject it because we’re so used to being the lame person at the Beautiful gate? Maybe He wants to give us new abilities but we’d rather remain dependent on Him or others to supply our lack. Don’t get me wrong, we’re ultimately always dependent on God (every breath we take is a testimony to that). It is also part of God’s plan that we exercise our God-given abilities to supply our own and the needs of others, recognizing that our very ability to do so is dependent on Him.
Would I go walking and leaping and praising God into the temple if I’d just been given the responsibility of working for my own sustenance now? Do I refuse to grow in my Christian experience because I’d rather remain the beggar?
This man who used to sit a the Beautiful gate demonstrated courage when he accepted the gift offered to him that day. And maybe trust that the same Jesus in whose name he was given the power to walk, would teach him how to walk properly.