By Special Guest Blogger Michael Blue
I was recently reading Acts 3, where Peter and John told a man who had been crippled from birth to “rise up and walk.” The man immediately got up and began walking and leaping and praising God. Literally, his first steps were leaps of praise. Stop for a moment and think about this actually happening. What must it have felt like for this man to stand for the very first time at age 40? How would you have reacted? Sometimes I read these miracles and treat them more as fairy tales than as stories that actually happened. Don’t miss how remarkable this simple miracle actually was.
What struck me fresh when I was reading this story was that after this man showed off his newfound leaping ability, he clung to Peter and John. I picture him literally draped over the shoulders of Peter and John hanging on for dear life. He wanted to hold tightly to the men who had healed him. What an astounding picture. Imagine Peter and John’s reaction as they attempt to enter the Temple to worship with a man draped all over them shouting praises to God. It must have been quite a scene.
The scene was so dramatic that everyone else who was there was “filled with wonder and amazement” and “utterly astounded.” They were running toward Peter and John and staring at this crippled beggar who was now jumping around the Temple. This is not a day that anyone would soon forget.
I believe we can learn a lot from the responses of both the beggar and the crowd. The beggar, in response to experiencing the life-changing healing touch of God, moved from uncontrolled zeal to desperate clinging. He wanted more of God and didn’t care who knew it. He had fallen passionately in love with the God who changed him from the inside out; the God who makes dead things come alive. This is a man who had seen the power of God and was not going to let anything get in the way of him growing closer to God.
The crowd, in response to witnessing a great miracle, watched in observant wonder. They were amazed at the change but somehow remained in a state of disbelief. They were curious, but it seems they were more interested in the show than the life transformation. They were more interested in seeing a changed life than experiencing one. In reading the story, I couldn’t help but wonder how many in the crowd believed that there was actually a God who could do the things they had just seen.
These two responses seem to personify how most people respond to God. When confronted with God, they either desperately cling to Him and His life-changing power or they get just close enough to Him to see what He can do and then sit back in observant wonder. One group is engaged while the other is detached. One group desperately clings to the God of change and the other constantly wonders whether there is a God who can change. I believe that too many in churches today live in observant wonder instead of desperate clinging. They want to experience the life change God promises, but aren’t sure if it’s worth it so they just sit back and watch. They simply observe and wonder what it would be like to experience life change like that. This observer mentality is slowly killing our churches. When churches are filled with observers, over time there is nothing of interest left to observe. There are no clingers. No life-changing stories. Just a bunch of people standing around wondering if there really is a God who can make a crippled man walk, not willing to take Him at His word that He can. Simply put, they don’t trust God.
My desire is for our churches to be filled with desperate clingers. People so in awe of the change they have experienced in their encounter with God, that their response is to leap and shout and cling to the God of hope. This is a church that draws a crowd. This is a church that makes people ask, “what’s the deal with them?” This is a church that demands an explanation. This is what the church is called to be. We need to do what Peter did and call the observers to come and live in the life of desperate clinging – the only life worth living. When we do, I believe we’ll see a response like Peter did and see observers become clingers.