In a world with inviting messages craftily concocted to attract us, we have learned to harden ourselves to everyone with ‘Free Offers’. In hardening ourselves, we intrinsically harden ourselves to God.
The incident of the lame beggar outside the temple of Jerusalem’s beautiful gate stands in contrast (Acts 3:1-10). The man expects a gift, for Peter and John look at him. What a telling statement. The last thing you do for a beggar is give eye contact. That cost’s you! This eye contact was an act of generosity from people ‘who had been with Jesus.’ They had experienced Jesus’ love for others and followed suit.
The lame man’s response was even more remarkable. This man who had sat outside the temple but forbidden to enter for forty years praised God and went in. How many people would by this time be so contorted by bitterness that they could not accept this as a gift of God? This response points to a lifetime habit of worship and openness to a God who had been kept at a distance by religious and cultural obligations.
This event asks questions of us. How quick are we to justify away our hardness towards others? This justification with the approval of our acquaintances. Do we have faith to receive both the beggar as Peter and John did – I know I consistently struggle here. Do I have faith to receive a new life from God? Do we have such an attitude to God that when He does something good for us, our response is to worship.