God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
This Example of Grace from a Complete Stranger
I had a most amazing experience yesterday. I had a health insurance issue to deal with so I went to the person who usually handles administrative tasks like this for me, my wife Kathy. I’m so grateful for everything she does for me and one of the ways she blesses me is she manages our health insurance. She also does virtually all the work for our taxes and she handles a host of other similar tasks that are necessary to our household. But this time she was busy doing something good for someone else, so she let me know that I’d have to take care of it myself.
The problem was our pharmacy was telling me a prescription that, for the last fourteen years I’ve had filled for free, was going to cost $74.00. I tried going to our health insurance website but I couldn’t find anything helpful. The only thing left to do was to call our insurance company.
I hate calling our insurance company.
They put me on hold and I have to listen to their bad music for what seems like hours and their customer service is often — not great and sometimes after waiting for a long time I get disconnected. I just hate it. It’s why I appreciate Kathy doing this for us.
Anyway, this time, I was the one. So I called. It didn’t begin well. After waiting on hold I learned that the pharmaceutical part of our policy had been farmed out to another company. So they transferred me to this other company and I explained the situation. And that’s when things took an unexpected turn.
This person was amazing.
Josie was her name. She looked up my account and let me know that the prescription was indeed completely covered so I would pay zero for it as I always had. I told her I would head down to the pharmacy with my insurance information so I could have the prescription filled for the proper amount — free.
But Josie asked if I would like her to save me the trip. She said she’d be happy to call the pharmacy for me. She put me on hold and made the call but after a few minutes she told me the person at the pharmacy hung up on her. (I won’t mention the name of the pharmacy, but it’s a big company, a Fortune 500 company.)
So then she asked me if she could call the pharmacy back and include me on the call. I agreed. So she called. And, the person from the pharmacy who answered the call was sporting an attitude. She was offended and reacted when Josie gently and politely explained she needed to ask for her name and title before she shared the personal information of her client. This woman from the pharmacy put us on hold. We remained on hold until the phone automatically started ringing again and someone else picked up. Again there was some attitude. Again Josie patiently and gently and politely explained the situation. This second lady from the pharmacy began taking information from Josie but part way through she lost it all. Maybe there was a problem with the computer, or maybe she just pressed the wrong key. Whatever the cause, the lady from the pharmacy had to ask if she could start over. And Josie said,
“Absolutely. No problem.”
And it was at this point I could feel the heart and mind of the person from the pharmacy shift completely. She calmed down. She became helpful and cooperative. And the problem was resolved.
Before the call ended I said, “Josie, you’re a very patient person.”
Josie said, “I don’t find impatience or having an attitude ever helps anything.”
I was amazed. Not your typical experience when dealing with insurance companies.
Anyway, we’ll come back to Josie later.
And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?Acts 3:9-12
In our last post from the book of Acts we looked at the behavior of the lame man after he was healed. If you’re interested you can read that post here: What to Pray–When You Can’t Think of What to Say: Acts 3:7-10. Today we’ll look at Peter’s tone as he begins to share Jesus with the crowd.
So in our last post from the book of Acts we saw how Peter and John locked eyes with the lame man, and Peter commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to rise up and walk. And the lame man enters into the temple with Peter and John walking and leaping and praising God. Verse 9 says all the people saw him and knew him as the lame man who was always there at the gate, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened.
This man who, was lame and is healed, is now clinging to Peter and John. “Utterly astounded,” all the people run together to where they’re standing in Solomon’s Portico, which is a porch like structure supported by columns located on the eastern side of the temple.
When Peter saw the crowd forming in the Portico he recognized the opportunity to share Jesus, and he began this way:
“…why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?”
One thing about reading the written word is that you can’t always discern the tone of the writer, or speaker if they’re quoted. In today’s passage we see Peter begin to address the crowd and I believe that already the tone has been set by the healing of the lame man. Jesus’ love is communicated by that amazing healing. You could even say that at this point, Jesus’ love is unmistakable to the man who was healed and to the crowd who witnessed it.
Then Peter addresses the crowd and he begins with humility. Why do you look at us as though we’re special?
This combination of love and humility is what draws the crowd toward Jesus. The formerly lame man is so drawn it’s literally like magnetism. He’s clinging to Peter and John like a piece of iron clings to a powerful magnet. I imagine at this point in our story it would be all but impossible to separate the man from the two vessels of Jesus’ Spirit, Peter and John. And it’s not just the formerly lame man. Everybody around is attracted. They all come running and gather near.
Did you know the name Josie is the diminutive of Josephine and Josephine means “Jehovah increases”. Peter’s example and Josie’s example remind me of the difficult places we find ourselves sometimes. When we encounter a difficult person the way Josie did, we always have a choice to make.
We can choose to focus on the behavior of others.
Or we can choose to focus on how we respond to the behavior of others.
Josie chose the latter.
Peter chose the latter too. Some if not many of the people in that crowd were those who shouted to Pontius Pilate, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” If ever there was occasion to be offended, this was that occasion. The people there were complicit in the murder of Peter’s completely innocent friend, Lord, and Savior.
These people were responsible in part for Jesus’ murder.
Shouldn’t Peter be offended? Isn’t it even wrong of him not to be offended?
But Peter didn’t take offense at all. Instead Peter responds with humility. And later in this chapter we’ll see how Peter extends more grace still to the crowd who was involved in killing his friend and Lord.
The Difficult People in My Life and Yours
I was pleasantly surprised by Josie’s patience and grace during our encounter with the people at the pharmacy yesterday. And I’m completely blown away by the tone of love and humility Peter takes when he communicates with those who were part of the mob who cried for the murder of Jesus.
When I think about the difficult people in my own life, I can’t help but feel humbled in light of our passage.
When I’m confronted with unjust people, abrasive people, rude people, angry people: I want to respond the way Peter did.
I want to love that person or those people so well, that Jesus’ love in me is absolutely unmistakable.
“Father, please help me and help the dear person reading this right now. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit the way you did Peter and John. Fill us with the love of Jesus to the overflowing.
“Help us to take our focus off of the behavior of others and to concern ourselves with our own behavior and attitudes. Help us to concern ourselves with being conformed into the likeness of Jesus.
“In Jesus’ name.”
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?Jesus Christ, Matthew 5:44-47
You might also like Genesis 26 Revisited — He moved on from there and dug another well
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Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
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