I love the story of Peter and John healing the man at the Temple gate. If you want to read the story for yourself, you’ll find it at the beginning of Acts 3. Peter and John are on their way to the Temple when a crippled man at the gate (which is called Beautiful) asks for alms. Peter tells the guy, “I don’t have any money, but I’ll give you what I do have. In the name of Jesus, get up and walk.” So Peter takes the man by the hand, helps him up, and the guy’s feet and ankles are healed and receive strength. Then he jumps up and goes with Peter and John to the Temple, praising God all the while.
Great little story, isn’t it? And everybody wins. The crippled man gets to walk for the first time in his life, Peter and John get a gold star for furthering the Kingdom of God, and God gets all the glory.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah, but it sounds like your standard Bible story.”
Perhaps that’s true. I mean, it’s not unlike other Bible stories. And it’s okay if you find nothing about this story striking. There are plenty of other Bible stories for you to enjoy. But let me tell you why I enjoy this one.
First of all, it involves Peter, and I love Peter. I can relate to him a lot. Second, this takes place post-crucifixion, and it’s a great depiction of how the disciples have grown and developed. They went from being a group of seemingly random, confused men to passionate, empowered leaders. Third, Peter’s words to the man are honest, bold, and kind. It’s probably the first time in the man’s life that a stranger has spoken to him in such a way instead of as an inferior. Fourth, Peter’s example of helping the man up is something we all need to take note of. And finally, it all happens outside of church.
I’m aware that most miracles took place outside of church, but for whatever reason, it really hits me with this one. Maybe it’s because I know that the Temple is their destination, so I also know they aren’t in there when the miracle occurs. But there’s something about these men walking on the street, without Jesus standing right beside them, and performing this act that’s phenomenal to me.
It’s because we let our faith start and stop at the church door more often than not, and that’s clearly not what happened at that gate.
No one does the world a bit of good by only putting their beliefs, faith, and convictions into practice on Sunday mornings. We don’t need people to just sit around and discuss the Bible or listen to other people do so. We need people to actually do as it says.
It’s like when a Christian artist (or as I prefer to think of them, an artist who happens to be Christian) appeals to a secular audience, whether it’s by touring with a secular artist or working on a song with them, and the “Christian” community loses its mind. It makes no sense to me. To start with, it’s just music; calm down. I understand completely and entirely that music can be a place of solace and that it’s powerful and important, but there’s no need to get so bent out of shape about whether a band is playing in a church or a bar. The point is they’re playing, and more importantly they’re playing the very same music they normally play. Secondly, they’re doing more good for the Kingdom by playing to non-Christians. Yes, Christians need encouragement and celebration, but others need the love and grace of God. Tell me, which need is greater? And tell me, why can’t we have both? What’s wrong with a Christian and an Atheist sitting beside each other in an arena and enjoying the same music? There’s nothing wrong with that at all.
What good would it have done us if the apostles only spoke to those who believed the very same as they did?
What good would it have done us if Jesus hadn’t gone to places that got His hands and His reputation dirty and spoke to the outcasts, the nonreligious, and the people who were rough around the edges?
What good are we doing by letting our faith sit in a church pew surrounded only by other Christians?
But before you go out into that world all bright-eyed and hopeful, you’ll need to know what exactly you’re supposed to do while you’re out there.
That’s a bit harder to figure out. Some of it you can get from reading the Bible, like loving others and helping those in need. I think we can all get on board with those, and we should actually carry them out. You’ll have to figure out the rest of your calling on your own.
Slightly scary, but the good news is there are elements that guide you to finding your calling.
The biggest clue is found in your talents. Your talents are given to you by God, so it only makes sense that He would want you to use them for His glory.
For example, I’m not a terribly good cook. God would get minimal glory (if any) out of my cooking, especially on a grand scale. And that, my friends, is why I am not a professional chef and why I don’t cook the breakfast Abstract serves on Sundays. (A quick shout out to those who are involved with making and serving the breakfast on Sundays because you’re all great. My stomach and I would be sad without you.)
But really. Don’t play guitar? Don’t try out for the lead guitarist spot in the worship band or any band for that matter. If you get nervous talking in front of crowds, don’t become a preacher or a motivational speaker. If you don’t like teenagers, don’t get involved with the youth ministry and don’t become a high school teacher.
God may not call you to do exactly what you want to do. The Apostle Paul, the guy who wrote most of the New Testament, always wanted to travel to Spain and preach there. While theories exist that Paul may have gone to Spain at some point in his life, there’s no evidence that he did actually get to go there. As far as we know, he never got to go where he truly wanted, but you never hear Paul complain about it.
Why is that? God didn’t give Paul exactly what he wanted, but He did give Paul something that would make him happy and fulfill him.
Which is what He’ll do for you. No, He may not call you to be a missionary in the Bahamas, but that doesn’t mean your life won’t be fantastic. As Alan has said the past couple of Sundays, “It may not be perfect to you, but it’s perfect for you.”
And really, if our hearts’ truest desires are to serve God, does it really matter where we are or what we’re doing?
But trust that God won’t call you to do something that doesn’t bring you joy.
I’m actually pretty lucky. I know God’s called me to be writer because not only do I love it, but it’s the only thing I’m really good at. (Well, that and sleeping, but I digress.) It wasn’t that hard for me to find my calling.
You probably have many more talents than I do, so it’ll likely be more difficult for you to figure out your calling. When you do, take it out to the world.
As a fair warning, there will be times when you doubt your calling. It’s sad but true. You’ll be criticized. Your parade will be rained on. Thing won’t always turn out the way you plan. You won’t always get recognition. At times, you won’t feel or see God moving even though He very well could be. Between Satan, people, and your circumstances, there will be times when you think, “Obviously this path isn’t for me.”
Word to the wise, don’t decide that on your own. Stay in touch with God. Don’t shut Him out. Don’t disregard His input. If you’re where you need to be, He’ll tell you that you are, and believe me, God’s confirmation is greater than any obstacle you could ever come up against.
By Carrie Prevette