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.
In our last post from the book of Acts we saw how people were amazed and impressed with Peter and John, and how those people recognized the reason for Peter and Johns’ amazing-ness was they had been with Jesus. As a Jesus follower I want that too! I want people to recognize I’ve been with Jesus. And I want people to see a transformed Kurt Bennett even as the people in Acts chapter four saw a transformed Peter and John. I want people to see me as a person transformed into the likeness of Jesus. And the only way for that to happen is for me to be with Jesus, even as Peter and John were with him. Toward that end, in our last post, we looked at ten ways you and I can be with Jesus. If you’re interested you can check that out here: 10 Ways You Can Be With Jesus.
In the last post we saw how the people who opposed Christ were amazed at Peter and John. In today’s post, we’ll look at the reason why the people who opposed Christ were completely flummoxed when they considered how to respond to Peter and John sharing Christ with the Jews.
But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.Acts 4:14-22
These people who opposed Christianity and the spread of Christianity were at a loss for what to do. They wanted to shut Peter and John down. They wanted to put an end to their sharing Jesus with people. But they had a big problem and their problem was the man standing beside Peter and John. He was forty years old and it would seem he had been in his lame condition for a long time. Because he begged in a very public place, the Beautiful Gate entrance to the temple, the man and his lameness were well known among the people. Peter and John healed this man in Jesus’ name, and now, here he is, standing beside them. And all the people were praising God for what had happened. So the opponents of Christ were in a quandary. They didn’t have an answer. They didn’t have an effective response. They were rendered helpless. And because they were helpless the sharing of Jesus among the people continued.
The Daily Grind and Loving Others
I’m amazed at how easy it is to feel overwhelmed by the daily grind. We have responsibilities at work, and kids to raise, and houses to clean and repair, and the car needs to be maintained, and there are meals to cook, and then there’s sleep, maybe a health issue to deal with, and family obligations . . . Wow. There doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day.
With all this activity, it’s easy to feel like we don’t have time for people outside of our immediate circle. We can feel overwhelmed. And not just overwhelmed by our day to day responsibilities but also by the enormous number of people who are in need. But Jesus and Peter and John, and the rest of Jesus’ disciples lived at a pace that was slow enough to include margin. Margin in their schedules to allow for engagement with people who weren’t in their immediate circle. Jesus was engaging Samaritans and tax collectors and prostitutes, face to face, on a personal level. These people were far from the immediate circle of a Jewish rabbi. Peter and John were doing the same.
They didn’t leave out their family members, they just expanded their family. They were intentional about communicating God’s love to anyone and everyone they encountered as led by God’s Holy Spirit. The lame man at the Beautiful Gate is a beautiful example of this.
Most of us don’t possess the gift of healing in the same way as Peter and John. But as I’ve written many times before, one of the most important keys to loving like Jesus is to focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t do. It’s interesting to me that in Jesus’ discourse on the final judgment, all the acts of love Jesus lists are well within the capability of the most average among us. And they’re all actions of direct engagement. Engagement on a personal level. (Matthew 25:31-46)
Who’s Standing Beside You?
I think it’s important for me, and for you, for us to ask ourselves the question, “Who’s standing beside us?” Are there people standing beside us whose lives are changed because of us? Are there people standing beside us who have experienced the love of Jesus poured out from us? The answer to this question is important for several reasons.
This is the answer to the question, “How do we deal with those who oppose Christianity?” When we live like Peter and John, leaving margin in our lives so we can engage strangers on a personal level, in a way that changes their lives, then, like Peter and John, we begin to accumulate people standing beside us. People whose lives have been changed by us. People who have been impacted by us in a positive way. People who have experienced the love of Jesus through us, because of us. As we accumulate people “standing beside us” in this way, we leave those who oppose Christianity in a quandary. Christ’s love pouring out from us leaves them without an effective response. Jesus’ love pouring out from us renders them helpless.
And, accumulating people “standing beside us” in this way avoids the noisy gong problem cited in 1 Corinthians 13.
Also, in our last post from the book of Acts we listed ten ways you can be with Jesus. But based on what Jesus said in his discourse on the final judgment in Matthew 25, when someone stands beside us the way the healed man stood beside Peter and John, that healed man is Jesus. So impacting someone’s life with the love of Christ is an eleventh way to be with Jesus.
Finally, as it did for Peter and John, accumulating people “standing beside us” in this way makes us dramatically more effective when we communicate Jesus to those around us. Not that every person around us will be convinced. But we give ourselves the best possible chance of influencing those around us when we live this way.
When we love this way.
When we love like Jesus loved.
Jesus is the way.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”Matthew 25:31-46
Image of man’s hand taking child’s hand by Jonathan Cohen — Creative Commons
Now available on Amazon!
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.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.
Pingback: “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and…” What the disciples prayed for (Acts 4:23-31) | God Running
This seems to reinforce the sermon I attended today:
1 – When we encounter Jesus, we walk away with a clearer picture of who God is. If we ever wonder about how God feels about anything we can look at Jesus. John 14:6-7
2 – When we encounter Jesus, we walk away with a clearer picture of who we are. Isaiah realizes this in Isaiah 6:5 and Peter in Luke 5:8. We are imperfect on earth and need Jesus to know the way.
3 – When we encounter Jesus, we begin to see our challenges more clearly. Literally, in Acts 9:7-9 Paul encountered God and his sight recovered three days later
4 – When we counter Jesus, we see our purpose more clearly. Acts 9:6
Notes from Seacoast Church 6/27/2021 – https://www.seacoast.org/seacoast_go/how-to-see-in-the-darkness/
Thank you for sharing that Adam. That’s an excellent sermon!