Summary: The churches of this day confront broken humanity. Whether we attempt to touch those who are broken through our wealth or with the power of Christ depends upon how we see ourselves as servants of the Lord.

“Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘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!’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” [1]

The noted theologian, Thomas Aquinas, visited the Vatican to call on Pope Innocent II. The Pope was counting out a large sum of money at the time Aquinas visited. Seeing Aquinas, the Pope remarked, “You see, Thomas, the church need no longer say, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’” Aquinas responded, “True, Holy Father, but neither can she now say, ‘Rise up and walk.’” [2] That particular exchange occurred in the thirteenth century; it is now the twenty-first century. Churches in the west are rich, but they are not necessarily endued with spiritual power. In far too many of the churches in the western world, spirituality is reminiscent of the Pecos River at floodtide—a kilometer wide and ankle deep.

The text is treated allegorically in the message this day. The incident was real—Peter and John did heal a lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. They were accosted by the authorities because of their demonstration of power in the Name of the Risen Christ. They were threatened by the religious leaders. The lame man did reveal the mercy of the Saviour by walking and leaping in the sight of all that were present that day. However, as I read the account, I am struck by how the incident pictures contemporary church life. Join me in exploring the implications for modern Christians concerning what happened that day.

A SICK CHURCH — The Temple in Jerusalem was the outward expression of Judaism; thus, it represented the Faith of the Jewish people. As such, it was somewhat akin to the church buildings that dot the land, being found in every community. These church buildings, many now empty or converted to secular uses, stand as silent witnesses to the faith of our fathers. They picture the indominable spirit that motivated our forebears to penetrate the wilderness, carving out a home in an inhospitable land. They are not unlike the Temple in the days following the first blush of the Faith. These church buildings are not the Faith, but they serve as testament to a vibrant, powerful Faith that once thrived in our land. Now, these decaying husks remind the few that gather in them of lost power and lost vision. People gathered in these monuments to the past bemoan how bad the world has become and hard it is to be Christian in this brave new world.

There is an obvious and significant observable difference between the Christians of that first century and the followers of Christ in this twenty-first century. Those earliest followers of the Master had no Internet, there were no computers—there wasn’t even electricity delivered to their homes! Obviously, there was no YouTube, no Google, no Twitter. Their sole means of communication was by voice at intimate distances or through written letters delivered by post at the pace of feet walking along Roman roads. These early assemblies were unable to televise worship services because there was no television, nor were there any radio broadcasts.

The first assemblies didn’t even have church buildings in which they could meet! Imagine! No padded pews or carpeted altars where penitents could kneel! One wonders how these followers of the Risen Saviour even managed to worship! When the congregants gathered, there were no praise bands, no worship teams, no electronic aids to ensure that the singers could be heard above the throbbing beat of the drums, no dancers waving flags. These earliest Christians could not travel to distant countries in a day or less via jet planes, and they had no motorized vehicles to carry them and their baggage to villages and cities far removed from their support base. Yet, against all odds, these first followers of the Master were charged with turning their world upside down [see ACTS 17:6]!

Copy Sermon to Clipboard with PRO Download Sermon with PRO
Talk about it...

Nobody has commented yet. Be the first!

Join the discussion