Leader, here is some encouragement for you today.
Acts 3:1-3 Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. 2 As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.
This story tells us about a man that had crippled legs. We don’t know why he is that way, all we know is that he has been that way since his birth. Over 40 years. That means his world has always been viewed from that crippled state. It’s easy to read this passage and many others like this one from a historical perspective. Unfortunately, that leads to missed opportunities to discover Gods life transforming word for us today.
We may not live in a world where crippled legs are a major issue, however we live in a society that is filled with young people that have crippled lives. We constantly encounter young people that live crippled because they have no genuine hope, no genuine purpose, no genuine freedom. Young people that have been stuck in cycles of anxiety, hopelessness, fear, failure and so on, for as long as they can remember. And just like the crippled man, life looks different for that young person because they have only ever seen the world from that state.
That’s one of the reasons why we don’t criticise and judge young people when they make choices that are destructive. We don’t know what life looks like through their eyes, and just like the crippled man young people will do their best to get through life while searching for what it is that they think will make them happy, give them value and determine their purpose.
Let me explain what I mean by that.
The crippled man spent every day begging for money.
My question to you is: Was money what he really needed? I know that he needed money, but was money his greatest need?
No! Obviously, his greatest need was to have his crippled legs healed!!!!! But living crippled for 40 years made that seem like an impossible outcome, so he asked people to give him what he thought could make his life better.
For the crippled man and for so many young people, the desire for a better life is sought after in what they think will provide that. Things like money and promiscuous relationships, or maybe being successful in school or sports or having status amongst friends, maybe even it’s having a large following on social media and sadly, for others, it’s turning to a substance that eventually destroys them.
What did Peter and John do when they encountered this situation that we so often encounter.
3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. 4 Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. 6 But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up an walk!”
Leaders, we are so often in the same situation as these men. Encountering young people who live crippled lives and it can be overwhelming for us to look at their situations and think, “How can I fix this?” I know what it’s like to look at the hopelessness and destruction in the life of a young person and know that I cannot fix them.
The encouragement that I have for you today is that you are completely inadequate to fix the crippled young people that God brings into your life. I know that that doesn’t sound very encouraging, but it really is.
The truth means that the pressure is off you. I’ll reinforce this further by reminding you of the areas in your own life that God is still working on. If you were able to fix them, you’d be fixed already. But you can’t, so you rely on Jesus to do the work in you that he promised he would. This is also the same response that we have for every young person that we meet who has a crippled life.
There is no program, there is no resource, there is no event, there is nothing that we can give to people but the all-knowing, all-powerful, ever present God, Jesus Christ. He has the power to take someone from broken to whole, from lost to found, from death to life in him. The pressure is off. Unless Jesus does what only he can do, we are all going to fail. Thankfully, he never fails!!!
So the crippled man asks them for some money and Peter says, “Look at us man, we don’t have any money. And by the way, I don’t think that money is what you really need. But I’ll give to you what’s been given to me “in the name of Jesus Christ, get up and walk.”
Now we discover where we fit into this picture
Verse 7. Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up.
Peter reached out and took the crippled man by the hand. That is what we do. We may not have the ability to fix a broken life, but we do have the ability to connect to one. It is only Jesus who has the power to change a life. And we are the only ones who can physically lock hands with the broken in our community.
I love the line in the passage that follows Peter locking hands with the crippled man. It says: And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. AND AS HE DID!!! It was as Peter connected his life to the crippled man that he was able to experience the miracle through the power of Jesus. That is how we fit into this picture.
Now get this, the passage then says, 8 He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. The man had lived for over forty years and he had never done that before. He had never run, he had never jumped. It’s great that he got to do those things.
However, the greatest highlight is that the man went with Peter and John into the temple to praise God. His life would never be the same again. Jesus is the power to transform a life.
Our responsibility is to be the one that consistently takes the hand of a young person so they can experience that.
Article by :
STEPHEN LOTT (LOTTY)
NSW State Youth Alive Director