Summary: The Practicing (serving) Church is a: Philanthropic Church, Proclaiming Church,Persecuted Church, Protected Church, Praising Church, Praying Church, and aPowerful Church
(Excerpt from Peter Marshall—"Were you there")
("The [afternoon sun was sliding into its gentle decline] over the City of David. Already pilgrims, and visitors pouring in through [the north and south gates of the Temple; elbowing their way past those milling around in the grand court yards and those congregating under the shade of Solomon’s Colonnade.] There were the aged, stooped with years, muttering to themselves as they pushed through the throngs, and there were children playing…calling to each other in shrill voices [as they ran in and out of, and in-between dozens of adult islands scattered throughout the court of the Gentiles and the steps that led into the Court of Israel.] There were men and women too, carrying burdens, baskets of vegetables, casks of wine, water bags. And there were trademen with their tools. And there, under a narrow canopy, a merchant shouted his wares in a pavement stall.") And here, as we pass through the Gentile court, and ascend the steps into the court of Israel, we prepare to enter the temple Gate called Beautiful…to enter into God’s house…to be near to the awesome glory and splendor of the Creator…to worship and pray… here to the left, and there to the right are the afflicted…the crippled…the handicapped…the blind…the feeble minded…the twisted…the paraplegic… the withered…
One who has been crippled from birth is being carried…at forty years old… to the temple gate by his family…just like he is everyday…to beg from those going into the temple courts to pray.
Before you can look away…he looks your way. Before you can look away…he asks for some money. Before you can look away… your friend grabs you just above the elbow and says, "Do you remember what Jesus did at times like this?" Turning to your friend you see that mischievous grin creeping up the sides of his face. And strangely, you’re inspired by the thought. What would Jesus do?
It’s no accident that these kind of people littered the beautiful ornamental gates that led into the presence of God. It’s no accident. Who have you served today? As you enter into your private place of prayer daily, who are the beggars at your gate? Whose faces do you see? What physical, emotional, spiritual needs populate the steps as you push passed all the busy-ness and clutter of your job and family to make your way into the Holy of Holies within your heart?
In Acts chapter 3, we see Peter and John on their way to the temple to pray. And as they are working their way through the crowd, a beggar is being carried to the gate to beg. He sees them- and calls out for some money… a hand-out…
The cry for help is heard by Jesus’ own. And Jesus’ own don’t have a dime to spare. Let’s note that this man doesn’t harass Peter and John. There are hundreds here. His cry is to anyone who will hear and respond. He has asked Jesus’ own, but he is asking anyone and everyone with an ear to hear and a cent to spare. Let’s note that, because verse 4 tells us that Peter and John looked him square in the eye and said, "Look at us."