Acts three tells us the story of a man who remains nameless to this day. What we know about him is that he was at the bottom of his barrel. He was paralyzed and had been so since birth. His days consisted of begging for his means to exist. He was not alone. He had friends who transported him daily to the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. He had a network of support who had been giving to him for years. But he did not know Jesus. That DID NOT mean that He could not know Jesus!
What is apparent to the quick reader is that the Spirit of God orchestrated these miraculous events. A lame man hungry for a mighty work of God just ‘happened’ to be in the path of two of the leaders of the newly formed Christian Church. We know these two leaders as Peter and John. As they passed the spot the lame man called home for his 40 long years, he cried out to them for money. The two leaders, just recently supernaturally changed from the inside out by the Spirit of Jesus, quickly responded “We don’t have any silver or gold to offer you, but what we have we readily give. In the name of Jesus rise up and walk!” The man immediately leapt to his feet and began running through the courts of the Temple praising God.
As members of this very same Church of Jesus, we face scenarios like this every single day. Every day presents new needs, new requests for help, new obstacles that need to be removed. And every day we get to decide if we will engage or walk away. The disciple’s answer gives us a model. They remove the “I don’t have time or resources to offer” excuse. They did not offer the man something that would simply prolong his pain. They didn’t extend his misery for another day. The man needed to walk and this is exactly what they offered him: the gift of healing. They were quick to say this power did not come from them, any magical source they conjured up or any special sort of prayer only they could offer. No, this miracle came straight from the hand of Jesus. But it is equally clear that it came to him through them. They were willing to step up to the plate with the faith to get the job done.
Why do we hesitate to respond in faith to the needs we see? Why do we not say “Rise up and walk!” more often…or ever, to the paralyzed in our lives? What’s more, why do we settle our consciences by offering pocket change to the hurting helpless in the world around us? Think about this: every time the disciples made fear their first response Jesus chastised them, “O you of little faith!” What was He saying? “Doesn’t my Presence give you enough confidence to act on faith when I ask you to do something? Doesn’t the fact that you’ve witnessed first-hand my incredible power over and over and over give you the edge when you come up against an impenetrable wall? When will you make faith your first response?”
I want to point out a couple of Kingdom Realities here. The power of God expressed through believers is NORMAL. Just because it’s not normal for me doesn’t mean it’s not normal in the Kingdom of God. Again and again in the Word we see Jesus casting out demons, calming storms, feeding mass numbers of people, and healing people. I don’t believe Jesus was looking for chances to shock and awe people. He was living life and demonstrating what life should look like for us. How do I know that? Because every one of the apostles lived the way Jesus lived. Every one of them lived and exercised the kind of faith Jesus had. I do not think it abnormal in the Kingdom to say to this mountain “Move!” and watch it move. I don’t think the healing and storm calming Jesus did was just metaphorical.
God will always use the display of His power to grow the Kingdom. It is His desire that none should perish. He will never waste His glory. If we desire for men to be saved, we must not determine to do all we can or begin immediately to plan or just run out and start preaching. If our greatest desire is for God’s glory to be known among the hurting of our town and world, the greatest task we can take upon ourselves is to PRAY for power from on high! For until God gives us the ability to speak His words and demonstrate His grace, we are powerless. Our words never saved anyone. Our logic will convince no one. Our displays of might are pitiful when Jesus is in the room. We are like the kid showing off his muscles while standing next to the Hulk. Our efforts are ridiculous apart from God’s power to save.
God demonstrates His power among us and through us in order that the Church might be broken and restored. I don’t mean God glories in tearing us apart. I don’t mean He likes to make fools out of us. I do mean, however, that God’s glory is such that it cannot be contained in dirty pots. Every time His power is made real among us, we are made aware of our complete inability to even function apart from His supernatural ability to sustain us, much less to bring the world into a saving knowledge of Jesus. The glory of God breaks us. Like Isaiah, when we see God display His power we fall on our faces and cry out “We are a people of unclean lips!” God’s power shows us our lack and God’s glory shows us our great sin.
Listen, the power of God is always connected to the presence of the Lord. We will never experience great times of revival and awakening apart from drawing near to God and asking Him to show us His heart. It just doesn’t work. We will never get His power apart from His presence. And God’s presence never stays where sin is allowed to rule. In Peter’s words “Repent therefore…that times of refreshing my come from the presence of the Lord!”