Today’s service was quite entertaining. I say entertaining because it felt like I had walked into a circus of activity. People were all over the place, talking loudly about whatever the week’s dealings were with other people as the service was about to begin. Chaos is something I struggle with in regards to Church life. I grew up in a type of Church where people entered through the doors of the church and were quiet. There was no “real talking” going on. People came to clock in their two hours or so of Church life and that was not going to be replaced or compromised by building relationships/community with other people. There were other times for that kind of “goofing off.” One thing I have realized concerning The Well is that our fellowship and community life thrives both in and outside of the building in which we worship together. There is an atmosphere that we are able to be “all that we can be.” Yet, I wonder at times, how many people miss out on the blessings of preparing for worship being quiet and expecting God to whisper to us. It is just something that I have been considering lately.
Gary preached today. Our topic was Acts 3 and this unusual event when Peter and John were going to the Temple to pray. I find it amazing that there were set times in which people prayed together as a community. It was done, not because people were told they must pray at three. It was intentionally done because people wanted to be in relationship with others and pray for one another. People looked forward to these times of prayer. It was a time to be with the body of Christ and lift up needs to the Church and to God in expectancy of God meeting those needs and His answers to their prayers. I wonder what our churches would be like if we came with that attitude to times of prayer – how our church life would change dramatically. I cannot foresee the body of Christ doing this – it would be an awesome thing to experience though. It would involve people being intentionally devoted to a life change for themselves and for the larger body of Christ (and the world). Maybe it is not something that is too hard to believe – it just takes a step in the right direction. It has to start with someone – maybe it needs to start with my attitude towards it. I guess that is something that I have to figure out first. Just another thing I need to work on in my own life.
So John and Peter go to the Temple to intentionally pray with the body of Christ in the temple and see some guy who had been dropped off by the front doors of the Temple. His story began a long time ago – since he was born. He couldn’t walk. He would sit and beg for money while his friends went in and prayed with the community. Here’s a question, after hearing this passage, that I have to ask, “Why didn’t the man’s friends bring a few people outside and pray with the man during the times of prayer?” My sister is in a wheelchair. She cannot walk on her own and is has resorted to using an electric wheelchair as her mode of going from one place to another. What we went to enter a church and there was not a ramp to assist her to enter? What if there were 30 steps to the church and no way of getting her in the building? What if I told her that I was going to leave her outside while I went in to worship? Does anyone else have a problem with that? It does not say that the man was sick with a disease in which he could not be in community with others. He was unable to walk… I know in my heart of hearts I could not worship God, Maker of Heaven and Earth, who sent His Son for me, in order that I can be restored to fellowship with Him, and leave someone outside. I have to ask what kind of friends these men really were to the man? It is amazing how entangled we can get with our own thoughts and wants. The men who left his buddy outside are probably like today’s Church goers – they were late to get up in the morning, late to eat breakfast, and late to leave that day and rushed through the doors at 10:35 when the service starts at 10:30. We have lots of people like that in the Church. Would it have been a big deal to bring the guy through the doors?
When Peter and John go to enter through the doors, the man is there, asking for money. Peter is led to share with this man something he was not expecting, “I have no silver and gold, but what I DO have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk (v. 6). How ridiculous that must have sounded to the man. What kind of nerves do these guys have? They just told me to get up and walk! Don’t they see that I am lame and unable to walk? If I were able to walk, I would be in the temple during prayer. In fact, Peter and James had to take the man by the hand and lift him up. Once they helped him up, the man’s muscles in his legs became “strong.” He could put weight on his feet for the first time.
As the man is able to now walk, he jumps up and down, praising God. I am sure, for those who were praying, it must have been an interesting scenario to listen to. The religious leaders were probably getting upset. “Didn’t those people outside have any respect for prayer?” All the sudden, the noise got louder until they walked in the main sanctuary. Someone disrupted the afternoon prayers, and chaos was ensued. The religious leaders attempted to regain order but the surprises on the faces of those in the temple were not just silent, they must have also be vocalized. What about the guy’s friends who had brought him to the temple and left him outside? What do you think they thought when they saw this guy they had been bringing to the temple for the past couple of years to beg felt as they saw this guy walking and jumping for the Lord? Their mouths must have dropped.
There were those who were angry and those who were scared. Those who were amazed and those who perhaps attempted to “get back into the spirit of worship through prayer.” Peter than give a little speech concerning this man’s restored life. Needless to say, it was not what they wanted to hear. Peter never seems to pull any punches when it comes to his convictions in the Spirit. The chapter ends and prayer ended.
It is an interesting story. It is written for us for a reason. Maybe for some of the reasons I question as I read this story. Maybe for a lot other reasons we have not looked at in this post. It is safe to assume though that we can be confident that it was important enough to be included in this narrative of the early church. I hope it will bless you as it has challenged me. God bless