Summary: In this passage we understand that the Church of Jesus is to 1. Be People who can deliver Hope 2. People who Look Outward not always Inward 3. People of Holy Spirit Power and not Powerless
Scripture: Acts 3:1-10
Title: Beggars, Miracles and the Name of Jesus
In this passage we understand that the Church of Jesus is to 1. Be People who can deliver Hope 2. People who Look Outward not always Inward 3. People of Holy Spirit Power and not Powerless
Grace and peace from God Our Father and our LORD KING JESUS and the Holy Spirit!
What a great day to be serving the LORD JESUS CHRIST!
Let's get into our passage this morning - Acts 3:1-10.
Did you notice as we read our passage that there are three major things that have caused the Church of Jesus Christ to cringe over the years? Now, what are those three things? They are in no particular order - beggars, miracles and the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
+ Let's deal with beggars for a moment. Beggars bring up all kinds of uncomfortable images in most people's minds. In Peter and John's day beggars were a common sight around the Temple. Up until about 50 - 60 years ago they were a common sight around the great cathedrals and churches both here in the United States and in Europe as well. W. H. Davies, the tramp poet, tells how one of his vagrant friends told him that, wherever he came into a new town, he looked for a church spire with a cross on the top and began to beg in that area. It was his belief that wherever you found people who loved God that they would in turn love people as well; especially those who were marginalized. He could always count on people in the church and around the church for a meal or a few coins. (Barclay - Daily Study Bible - Acts of the Apostles).
Not so much today. In fact, you will find most beggars today either walking the streets of downtown cities, hanging around intersections (on and off ramps) or standing near grocery stores holding some type of handmade signs telling others around them that they need some form of help. Most of our churches are no longer bothered by traveling beggars knocking on our doors or hanging around our facilities.
Part of the reason for that is because most church doors are locked Monday through Saturday. If the Church does have a staff, often they are located in a building that is nearby or the staff does the majority of their work at home. The average church today has very little foot traffic Monday through Saturday. Of course, that is not true of all churches but as you travel around our country it is more often to find the doors of a Church locked Monday through Saturday than it is to see them open.
The Jewish Temple was different. It's doors normally opened around 6 AM and they closed at 6 PM. It's busiest times were the three scheduled times of corporate prayer - 9 AM, 12 midday and 3 PM every day of the week. You could always count on a number of people coming through the different gates surrounding the Temple during those hours. And because of the heavy foot traffic and the thought of "the LOVE OF MAN AND THE LOVE OF GOD GO HAND IN HAND" usually the gate areas were ideal locations for beggars and others that needed some type of help.
Another reason today we don't have a great deal of beggars hanging our churches is that we have for the most part transferred the responsibility of the care of beggars to Rescue Missions, Food Pantry's and Local Compassionate Ministry Centers. Taking care of beggars has become an offsite ministry in most locations. Some of that has been by accident while in other places it has been by design. After all, is the average American Church ready to handle someone on a Sunday morning who shows up disheveled, mildly intoxicated or reeking of sweat, bad breath and perhaps even urine? Is the average American Church ready to handle someone showing up looking malnourished, having slept on the ground the night before and shaking from withdrawal? Is the average American Church ready to take in a mother and some children who have been beaten and abused the day or week before?
The sad truth and it is one that we would rather not think about is that we are not ready. Most of our churches do not have food ready to hand out, immediate cash to take care of other's needs or even a place that we can quickly house them. If they come back when our offices are open then we will try to help them but for the most part our resources are inadequate. Most churches are not equipped to take care of beggars or needy families on an average Sunday morning. Most churches do not have a plan in place or even see the need to have a plan in place. Beggars coming to a church on Sunday morning is not something that we are used to seeing.