Why We Are Different, Part II

We have the greatest gift of all. For every Christian, we should understand that, based on what God has told us and shown us, He hates sin. And when there is sin, He is unapproachable. He hates sin that much. Yet His love for us was so great that He sent His Son to take our sins upon Himself. And that by doing so, He also took the punishment for us: death. And because of His death and subsequent resurrection, He allows us to approach the Father and to live for eternity with God. This isn’t something we could have done. There isn’t any way to earn it. The question is, “How much do we believe this is truly the greatest gift of all?” Our actions speak a whole lot louder than our words.

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene–walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God; and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. – Acts 3:1-10, NASB

A crippled man begged for alms. Peter and John didn’t have the money to give him. But what they did have was hope and healing through Christ Jesus. And they offered it to him by reaching them and lifting him up. Think about that for a second. This man was effectively dead weight. Without sudden and immediate healing in the man’s legs, when Peter went to pull his up by his arm, that would have been painful. Yet Peter reached and pulled and the man stood. Peter expected the miracle. He had faith that his Lord would deliver. And he eagerly presented this man with a gift no one else could give him. We have such a gift, if we believe it. If we believe God’s gift of grace, salvation from our sins and eternal life with Christ, is real, we need to be more like Peter. The cost to Peter was nothing. It wasn’t him actually offering the gift. It was God. God provided the healing. God provided the opportunity in the first place. The same is true for us with respect to sharing Christ. God’s grace doesn’t cost us anything, whether we’re receiving it or trying to tell someone else how to receive it. So why are we so hesitant to share the Gospel?

But it’s got to be more than just words. There’s got to be action. People have to see that we care. They have to see that we’re willing to take on their most pressing needs. That’s what Peter did. The man had an immediate need for money, but that need was caused by the larger need that he couldn’t walk. Peter attacked the real need. And that’s what we need to do, too. We need to see the real issues and go after them, regardless of the cost. If we read on further in Acts, we see that Peter and John were arrested and questioned for their actions. The only thing that saved them was the fact that no one could debate the healing that had taken place. It wasn’t about cost for Peter and John. It was about serving Christ and living out His example.

The same applies to us. We have to see the real needs people carry and, like our Savior, help carry their burdens with them. We do that and we force the world to rethink who we are, what Christianity is, and who this Christ may be. That’s how we show we’re different. We should want to show Christ in the most favorable light and the best way to do that is by staying true to His teachings and His Word. When we sacrificially love and sacrificially give and sacrificially serve, the people around us see the real Christ. And that’s when they become open to that vision. Acts 4:1-4 tells us that among the folks who witnessed the healing of the lame man, some 5,000 came to faith in Jesus Christ. That’s what it will take for us, too. They have to see us in action tending to folks, loving them, and serving them. That is the best way for them to see Christ, through us, and have an opportunity to respond with faith in the Savior. But it all starts with us.

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