Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Acts 3: the Wonder of Listening (plus a reader comment)

Thirty-five years ago, as my youth pastor, Dick Lawson showed me what a Christian man looked like. Two months ago, as a man who many years ago lost his first wife in a traffic accident, he showed me what "godly grief" looks like. He is now a missions executive with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. This morning he continued his seemingly lifelong ministry of "schooling" me with the following perceptive comment about yesterday's blog post:

"‘We’ don’t see miracles as in Act 2. Define ‘we.’ When ‘sophisticated’ Westerners, Christians or not, see a miracle we rationalize it away, look for natural reasons—as per the book Christian Atheists—confessing to believe but interpreting life as an atheist. If ‘we’ are in the developing world, a world that expects supernatural interactions—be they positive or negative—miracles are embraced. Many within a Muslim context are coming to a saving faith in Christ through dreams and visions which are acceptable vehicles to transmit truth. The hand of the Lord is still active in the land of the living for those alive enough to notice."

The signs and wonders continue in Acts 3. Peter says to a lame beggar, "silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I you." Peter has the gift of healing and soon the man is "walking and leaping and praising God," as the old Sunday School song goes. I dwell on those words, "such as I have give I you." I have the ability to pray. I have the ability to bless in Jesus' name. And I can listen. I can, if I choose, stand in front of someone and make eye contact and keep my mouth shut and concentrate on what someone else is saying. I know this because I have, on occasion, successfully done it. I have entered in the Spiritual Discipline of Active Listening.

I remember being very angry and "culture shocky" when I got out of jail (for abortion rescuing) in the summer of 1989. I am not blaming anyone for "making me" feel that way, but I remember that exactly one person, of all my friends and acquintances, took the time to really listen to what I was thinking and feeling. Strangely enough it was a multi-millionaire construction company owner with whom I served on a local non-profit board. This guy's life was busier than mine by far but he took the time to listen to the person in front of him. I wish I could say that since then I have honored that sacrifice by doing likewise. Maybe a good way for me to wash someone else's feet is with my ears. Healing may not flow from my fingers; but I can listen. Will salvation and revival result? I dunno. But at least "they will know we are Christians by our love." And maybe God will honor loving ears with healing hands and an apt word. "He who has been faithful in little...."

And speaking of faithful - there is Peter, still a leader but by grace no longer a bragging coward. Giving glory to God for the healing, he fearlessly tells the onlookers they have disobeyed God by killing his annointed, but may still receive mercy by the very death they cheered. On this rock the church is built. 

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