I recently heard about a missionary in Africa who experienced something amazing. He was called to the house of one of the village elders who was sick and on the verge of death. The village had done all they could. They had called the village witch-doctor, they had tried all their medicinal herbs, and they had prayed to their idols — but the village elder was becoming more and more weak.
They knew the missionary was a religious man who often prayed. As a last resort, they asked him to travel to their village and pray for their elder. The missionary explained that his God did not normally provide healing like this, but he agreed to go. They made the journey, walked into the small mud hut that was filled with smoke. He laid his hands on the village elder and prayed for him — and then he left.
A couple of weeks later the missionary traveled back to this same village. As he arrived, the village people approached him with singing and dancing. Leading them was the village elder who had been on the verge of death. God had answered the missionary’s prayer and healed this man. Many in the village turned to the true God as a result.
In Acts 3 we find a similar story, but the question is: how does it fit into the whole of the book? How does it help us understand the formation of the church and the mission God has given us?
The focus of this chapter is trusting in the power of Jesus. When we do trust that power we will make him the center of all we do.
There are several questions we can ask that can help us determine if we really have Jesus at the center of all we do.
1- Do I have faith in the power of God?
In verses 1-8 God works through Peter and John to perform an amazing miracle. The point of this is that Peter and John had faith in the power of God. Verse 6 states “But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Later in verse 16 Peter says that, “by faith in His name, His name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Him has given him this perfect health in front of all of you.”
They trusted in the power of God to do what only God could do. We should live and minister in a way that demonstrates that we trust in the power of God.
2- Am I filled with amazement when God works?
Far too many Christians are filled more with cynicism and skepticism than amazement. We listen to stories of God working and are skeptical.
Yes, it may be different now than it was in the New Testament, but God is still a miracle-working God, and when we see God doing amazing things in people’s lives, in their marriages, and in our churches, we should stop and be amazed at the power of God that is at work.
3- Do I reflect God’s glory?
Peter and John knew it was God who was working. They knew it was God who was saving. They knew it was God who was healing. They knew that it was not them and that they deserved none of the credit.
We must resist the temptation to absorb the glory that is due only to God.
4- Do I take advantage of opportunities to communicate the Gospel?
This presentation of the gospel is seen in verses 13-26. It is interesting that the presentation is Christ-centered (vs. 13-16, 18, 20), clear on sin (vs. 13-15), calls for repentance (vs. 19a), and is certain of forgiveness (vs. 19b).
What is even more important is that Peter took advantage of the opportunity. He saw people following the man who had been healed, wondering what had happened. To Peter, this crowd meant an opportunity to proclaim Christ.
Are we that willing to speak to others about God’s power to save?
It is easy to trust in our abilities more than God’s power. When we do that we will also be guilty of failing to reflect glory back to God. In order to live a life on mission for God we must make Jesus the center of our lives. When we do, these points mentioned above will become more of a reality in our lives.