The Cultivate Community has been looking at the Book of Acts during our Roots Bible study on Saturday mornings. I'm amazed as I read the accounts of how Jesus' disciples (who regularly misunderstood and misrepresented Jesus' ministry) became bold, spirit-filled leaders responsible for a global movement that has lasted for 2,000 years. As I read Acts 3: 1-10, the story of Peter healing the crippled beggar, I started to ask myself a few important questions—first, as a staff member of a mentoring organization and second, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peter recognized what the man was asking for... he had seen him begging for alms at the gate of the temple EVERY day for years. There was no cure for someone born lame, so everyone understood that his condition was hopeless. Understandably, the man believed that his greatest need was money. We are all facing our own unique trials because of COVID-19... and none of us have a clue when it will end. This leads us to ask ourselves some important questions: what do we believe our greatest needs are? What do people really need during this time? What are we really asking for as we face doubt, unemployment, disconnection, and fear?
Times like these cause many of us to miss what our real needs are and make these common mistakes...
We ask for money instead of provision.
Asking for provision is a trust exercise because, in the end, how God provides might look very different than what we expect.
Trusting for provision requires faith; granting God the permission to provide what He knows we need, rather than asking for something specific.
Peter said, "I have no silver or gold, but what I do have, I give to you." Provision came to the beggar in the form of healing.
We ask for entertainment instead of true connection.
Are we looking at social media or connecting to people online with the goal of distracting ourselves and passing the time?
Stories on social media can appear more dramatic (positive or negative) than our own—becoming coping mechanisms which influence how we feel about what is happening in our own lives.
Pursuing community requires vulnerability. It places us in deep relationships through which we no longer use people's stories to make ourselves feel better, but we begin to participate in them.
We ask for explanations instead of opportunities.
If we spend our time and energy asking “Why God?”, we could miss unique opportunities to share the gospel.
Looking for explanations can keep us in our heads and paralyze our hands. There is no limit to the opportunities if we get out of our heads and offer God our hands. There is so much that we can do to show people the love of God.
Asking God for opportunities instead of explanations will set us apart as people of hope. While others are focused on the flood of questions of how to handle all of this, Jesus followers can be available...to love and serve in creative ways.