January 3rd - What I Have
Acts 3:1-8 (NKJV) Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, "Look at us." So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them--walking, leaping, and praising God.
I have a friend who once said, "Most Christians live their lives like practical atheists." At first glance it seemed to be a shocking statement. My immediate response was to form an argument to disprove his point. The longer I considered the statement, the greater the conviction that what he articulated was true...sad, but true. What does it mean to live like a practical atheist? It simply means that we live as if God is disconnected from the reality of our everyday life. As if God is disinterested in the mundane goings-on of our daily routine.
I sometimes wish that life was as mundane as I suppose it to be, but then, just as I'm about to rest in that peaceful place of boredom, a crisis of sorts comes out of seeming nowhere and lands in the middle of my security. Suddenly, I'm faced with a situation that requires the intervention of God. I can no longer act like a practical atheist...there are no solutions found in a place of disbelief and separation from the Creator of all. In those lucid moments, where mundane caves in to the reality created by crisis, I shed the skins of the practical atheist and embrace the truth of "what I have" in Christ Jesus.
Peter and John where challenged by a beggar who had been lame from birth. The beggar asked for what one would expect a beggar to ask. The beggar asked for a temporary solace--a mundane solution for the symptoms of a greater problem.
What was the most the beggar could hope for? Enough silver and gold to feed himself for the day? Enough silver and gold to feed himself for a month or a year? What if the beggar could play the lottery and win enough wealth to feed and house himself and his family for life? Could it get any better than that? Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."
That was certainly unexpected... The supernatural workings of God are always unexpected to the practical atheist. The beggar was healed, and he walked around testing his new legs, leaping and praising God. Mundane was just destroyed by the power of God! Believers in Christ may not always have silver and gold, but the Word of God declares: "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world." If we can lay aside our disbelief for a moment, there is a spiritual mantel that declares that "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." The impossible becomes possible. As Believers in Christ, that is what we have...it is our spiritual birthright!
Author's Note: For being a "church boy," (That is someone who was raised in the church) it is disconcerting how secular I can be in my thinking and approach to life. Am I a "practical atheist?" I shutter to think... I am also challenged by the thought of "what I do have to give." If faced with a person in need of a miracle, what do I have to give? Am I connected to God and His power in a significant way or am I trying to meet the challenges of life in my own strength? (I don't like the answer to that question) Time to cast off the practical atheist camped in my brain, and time to turn to the creator of all that is...and check out what He has in mind. RJD