Acts 4:13 (Context Acts 3:1 – 4:23)
I heard a story about two neighbors chatting outside during a yardwork break. The first guy, we’ll call him Joe – Joe was clean-cut and average looking. His conversation buddy? His name is Mac. Mac was new to their block. He had a rougher look about him – long hair, ponytail, multiple tattoos, coupled with ear and nose piercings. Like many neighbors, they did not know much about one another – their exchanges limited to head nods and waves of greeting. One thing they did know – Joe and Mac presented themselves differently.
This one sunny Saturday afternoon – they started talking. Nothing of consequence at first, weather and sports, and so on. As they were talking, Joe thought to himself – “Surely this guy needs to meet Jesus, I should invite Mac to church.” He hesitated because he perceived that Mac might not take kindly to such a personal gesture. Joe worried if Mac would go – or if Mac would get angry or abruptly end the conversation. Joe wondered if he could ask without ruining the budding friendship.
While Joe was caught up in his thoughts, Mac turned the course of the conversation – “hey man, I want to give you this before get back to my lawn.” Mac continued as he handed Joe an invite card, “you should come check out our church – we’re doing a lot of cool things.” Joe was speechless.
Jumping to conclusions creates distrust and robs a relationship of intimacy.
In the early days of the Christian church, there was another rough looking new guy on the block – his name was Peter. Our story this week finds Peter and his companion John on their way into the temple to teach when they are encountered by a paralytic begging at the entrance. Peter and John had no money to give, instead they healed the man in the name of Jesus. Everyone was surprised! Without missing a beat, Peter and John continued their mission to teach people as Jesus asked. The temple leaders were upset by this and put them in jail overnight so they could quell the commotion. The next day, those temple leaders challenged Peter and John, asking who gave them the right to heal and teach. Peter boldly claps back and reminded them of Jesus’ power as evidenced in all they have witnessed, including the crippled man’s healing. The leaders were speechless!
It has been said that one should not judge a book by its cover. Doing so robs of the great story stored on the pages within. Like Joe, the Jewish leadership jumped to conclusions about people based on their appearance or pedigree. What they learned when they got beyond the surface is the unquestionable depth to the people they dismissed. I lost count of the points God is teaching us in this brief section of Scripture. Here are just a few of the takeaways we can use in our daily lives:
- Do not assume! There are as many journeys as there are people; be willing to learn from others who look or think differently than you.
- Be confident! Your background and experiences are unique – no one has lived the same life as you. The wisdom in your experiences is meant to be shared. Maybe those life lessons will stop someone from disaster or be a positive example for others to mimic.
- 3-2-1: Three times, two regular guys boldly shared one message of hope in these chapters: how Jesus taught, how he died, and how he came back to life. It is a message for folks from every walk of life: the outcast beggar, the ordinary townspeople, and the ornate leadership. Being with Jesus changed Peter and John – they could not help but share.
Don’t hesitate! Boldly tell everyone and anyone that Jesus died so we all can live!