Summary: The church carries out its calling to be witnesses to the ends of the earth through the gifts and talents of Christ’s disciples in everyday situatiosn in life.
Acts 3:1-16 “The Church Witnesses in Words and Actions”
We continue on our path of discovery. Our goal is to gain greater insight and understanding about the Church, by studying the early Christians who are portrayed in the Book of Acts.
So far we have learned that the early church had a clear understanding of their purpose. They were people who had been touched by God’s grace and love, and called to be God’s witnesses to the ends of the earth for the purpose of making disciples of all nations. Last Sunday we saw that the early Christians were a transformed people and adopted a different lifestyle—one that included the spiritual disciplines of study, fellowship, worship, prayer, and generosity.
Today we will look at a story that demonstrates how the early church went about carrying out its mission. The story is found in Acts 3:1-16. It is the story of Peter and John healing a lame man outside the walls of the temple.
MINISTRY IN EVERYDAY LIFE
The story opens with Peter and John walking to the temple in order to worship during the time of prayer—about 3 in the afternoon. They were involved in their daily routine. Peter and John were not off on some mission trip to a distant land, nor were they following the instructions of an angelic messenger.
We learn a very important lesson from this first verse. Ministry usually takes place among the daily activities of our lives. Certainly, there are exceptions to this general rule. Around the Memorial Day weekend our youth have an opportunity of going into Mexico on a mission trip. This adventure is out of the norm of our young people’s daily activities, and we are certain that ministry will happen—perhaps even a miracle or two. Usually, however, opportunities for ministry will pop up during our daily routines and rituals.
This is great news! God relishes the ordinary and the minute. We do not need to wait until we receive a call to become a missionary to a distant land. No, not at all! God has chosen to use us as the means to further establish his kingdom on earth. Realizing this truth and opening ourselves up to being used by the Holy Spirit to reach people and change lives is the first step in having ministry and miracles take place in our lives.
SEE THE NEED
In verse four we see another key element in carrying out the call of God to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. Luke, the author of Acts, records that Peter and John looked directly at the beggar. They saw the need and responded to the need.
One of the major struggles that we have as Christians is seeing the needs around us. Sometimes we are so wrapped up in ourselves—our wants and needs, struggles and successes—that we don’t (or can’t) look beyond ourselves. There are other times when we simply don’t want to see the need—it is too disturbing, too overwhelming, or too threatening.
Few of us are aware of the breadth of the homeless population in Surprise and the Phoenix area. We may be aware of the illegal alien controversy, but we are ignorant of the needs of these people, or the ministry opportunities that are available. Caught up in the demands of work we may be blind to the needs and struggles of our co-workers. In an age when families communicate by text messages and post-it notes, it is even possible to be unaware of the needs of our spouse, children or siblings.
One of the most important steps in being used for ministry and miracles is to open up our eyes so that we see the need. Where are the needs and ministry opportunities in your life?
PEOPLE OF FAITH
Near the end of the story, we come across another important discovery. In verse 16, Peter says, “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong.” The question before us is, “whose faith?”
Most people will answer that it was the faith of the beggar that allowed the miracle to take place. As far as we know, however, the beggar had never heard or seen of Jesus. It this was the case, than he certainly would have had any faith in Jesus.
The more likely candidates for faith are Peter and John. Certainly as disciples of Jesus Christ, and leaders of the church, they were men of faith. Peter and John believed that God loved the poor, lonely beggar. They also believed that God could touch the beggar’s life and transform it. Using the faith of Peter and John, the Holy Spirit moved and did touch and transform the life of the beggar.
If the world around is going to be changed and the lives of the people around us are going to be transformed it will be in part due to the faith of God’s children—you and me. If we don’t think God can use us for ministry and miracles, then God probably won’t. If we don’t believe that God is able to reach people and transform lives, then it probably won’t happen. The connection between faith and God’s movement is an ageless topic for theologians. We do know that where there is not faith, God’s movement is limited, and where there is faith anything is possible.