I was reading the beginning of Acts this morning, and I stumbled across a story that I know I have ready many times, but this morning something new jumped out at me from the pages of my Bible. The story is from Acts 3:1-10. In Acts chapter 2 the Holy Spirit came down on the day of Pentecost, then Peter preaches to the city of Jerusalem and 3,000 people were added to the church, and the chapter concludes with a fellowship of the early church. That is a great progression of events all in themselves. But we'll save that for another day.
Here we pick up the narrative with Peter and John going to the temple to pray at the "ninth hour" or three in the afternoon. There is a crippled man, who was born crippled, lying at the entrance begging for money from those going in. Peter walks up to him and says, "Look at me". After getting the man's attention, he tells him that he doesn't have any money, but what he does have he will give him. "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk." And the man is healed.
I can't tell you how many times I have read this small interaction outside the temple, or worse, just skimmed over it while reading about something else and not paid attention to it. But this morning, still in the throes of my hazy journey of faith, something startled me that I hadn't considered before...
In the previous chapter Peter had just delivered a very passionate bold message to the city about Jesus. So, he obviously had some boldness. (Remember this is the same Peter that walked on and then sank into the ocean, and the same Peter that cowered in front of a servant girl and denied Christ three times) But that wasn't what I thought about first. I thought, if I was Peter who's opinion would I be more afraid of: the crippled man I don't know or my friend?
Often times we do not share or exercise our spiritual muscle not because we are afraid of strangers, although let's face it, that's a big reason, but because we are not comfortable sharing our gifts openly with people we already know. Don't forget the silent partner in this story, the Apostle John.
The same John that was there:
the first day they were called to be fishers of men
when Jesus healed the daughter of Jairus
on the mount of transfiguration
in the garden of Gethsemane
The power of friendship and relationship, in my opinion, is the single greatest tool that we have when serving Christ. Peter, James and John were in the thick of it no matter where they were. Jesus had the twelve, but within them he had the three. It is this relationship, combined with the empowering of the Holy Spirit, that was the recipe for the great boldness that we see in much of the early church.
But for me, I don't actively do a lot of "ministry" with my friends... or even my family. In fact, I am down right afraid to "step out on faith" in front of some of my family! So, where's the disconnect? I don't have the full benefit of the support that God intended for me to have because I haven't nurtured and grown Godly friendships and relationships that will encourage not just my growing in faith but my acting in faith. It is not enough to simply grow in faith. We must be ready to act in faith, and support those who do.
Do you have the boldness to "shoot from the hip" and act in faith?
Do you have friendships with people who would support you and act or react with you?
- Just a thought.