Silver And Gold I Do Not Have

In Acts 3:1-10, shortly after the Pentecost service where the Holy Spirit was given out to the early Church of God, there was a telling incident that is worth quoting at some length:  “Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.  And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which was called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.  And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you:  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”  And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.  So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.  Then they knew it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”

What is the response of the godly to a broken world?  When we see the desire on the part of institutions and governments to profit off of disaster, there is little desire to deal with the root causes of the brokenness of the world.  Evil is entrenched deeply in the world, and even when it is agreed upon what is good and what is evil, and this is by no means as common as it ought to be, what to do about that evil is not always clear.  We may agree that certain diseases are evil, but that does not mean that we can effectively prevent them, cure them, or treat them.  We may prefer that people live comfortably rather than miserably, but how are we to give to others what is needed when we can barely provide for ourselves the bare necessities of a decent and honorable life?  Institutions gain power to the extent that they serve the interests of the powerful, and their legitimacy comes into question when they no longer act accordingly.  We may know, intellectually, that a certain course of action is best or worst, but how to take the first course and avoid the second is sometimes beyond our capacity.  This is true now, and it has always been true in history.

The story of the lame man is one that reveals a great deal of similarities between his time and our own.  He could not, by any action of his own, give strength to his own feet and ankles so that he would be able to walk.  He had been crippled from birth and could not try harder or do more than he was doing, which was precious little.  He, and his associates, lacking the ability to cure him of his condition, sought a place where a meager living could be provided through begging at a place, the entrance to the Temple, where people would be likely to be most generous.  This course of action is not difficult to understand—it is the same reason modern beggars hang out at the entrance ramps of freeways, because they hope that people driving on their way to or home from work will be at their most generous.  Nor was this a plant on the part of the apostles.  They did not ask one of their able-bodied friends or associates to pose as a sick person being healed, as is the manner of some contemporary charlatans, but rather they saw a genuine example of the brokenness of their time, and our own, in dealing with one who was disabled and unable to provide for themselves.  In their time, just as in our own, being disabled often meant having a difficult struggle for survival and dignity in a world where even the able-bodied and firm of mind struggled against circumstances.

The response of the apostles is a notable one.  They freely admit that they are not people of means—they do not have silver or gold, just like many of us have little in the way of material possessions to offer to others.  They are generous, though, giving what they have, namely the healing power of the Holy Spirit.  How often do we as believers, especially among those who are leaders of God’s people and who should be expected to have the strength and power of God working even more fully through their lives, seek to deal with the evil of this world as Peter and John did, by restoring what was broken, and what had always been broken, and making it whole, and not simply accepting the brokenness as a part of the world that could not be changed.  Do we have the same desire, and the same confidence, that God desires to fix what is broken, even in the face of so much brokenness in our world and in our lives [1]?  I must admit, candidly, that I often struggle with this matter, struggle to be content even where I am not satisfied, and struggle to have a vision of what wholeness and the recovery from brokenness would look like for me, for those I know, and for the world around.  Surely others struggle with these matters as well in different ways at different times on different levels in different amounts, but with a similar wrestling.

It is also important to note the result of their generosity of spirit.  The people were amazed at God’s power, the apostles took the occasion as a teaching moment to call upon the people at the temple to repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but somewhat predictably, the Sanhedrin that had corruptly shown hostility to the innocent Jesus Christ then had them arrested for making a scene, leading Peter to be filled with the Holy Spirit and preach to them, despite their unpleasant attitude.  While the healing led to the glory of God, it did not lead to the repentance of corrupt leaders, and the response of those leaders was to try to keep Peter and John silent, so as to preserve their own insecurity, rather than to act so as to restore more wholeness to their broken people.  Let us not forget that however we deal with the brokenness of our world that not everyone wants to see God make everything whole.  A God that is capable of healing the broken is capable of breaking those who are arrogant and corrupt, after all.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/the-broken-jar/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/05/16/standing-outside-a-broken-phone-booth-with-money-in-my-hand/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/ive-been-knocked-down-but-i-wont-be-broken/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/broken/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/book-review-the-beauty-of-broken/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/broken-windows/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/broken-things/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/the-sacrifices-of-god-are-a-broken-spirit-a-broken-and-a-contrite-heart/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Christianity, Church of God, History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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