"Look Upon Us"

Jesus walking on the beach

He was carried to the temple gate called Beautiful and laid before it, as he was every day. Being 60 feet wide, this gate was outside the temple, so he could beg alms of those entering for the times of public worship. He had been lame since his birth—more than 40 years ago—and receiving alms had been his only means of support. At the hour of prayer, he saw two men approaching who were slightly familiar to him. They worshipped at the temple with a devout group whose leader had often taught there before His recent death. He lifted his head, attempting to make eye contact with the two, hoping that they might spare a few coins for him.

As Peter and John approached the lame man, they had something to give him beyond the alms he sought. Peter looked deep into his eyes and said with strength and authority, "Look on us." Expecting coins, the lame man looked directly at them. But Peter's next words were "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."

Peter grasped his right hand to lift him. Instantly he felt strength in the limp bones of his ankles and his feet. "Leaping up," he stood and walked into the temple beside his healers: "walking, and leaping, and praising God" (Acts 3).

All who saw were amazed. Peter followed the miracle with a powerful testimony of the Savior, along with the people's own guilt in His death. Peter and John knew this man would be at the Beautiful gate, because he always was.  Since they must have known the testimony and instruction that were needed, we think it likely that this incident was inspired and planned.

The Savior wants us as Christians living our religion seven days a week to be aware of people we can help and opportunities to show His mercy and His love to others. We would do well to look around us for ordinary, everyday times as well as for group or more widely shared opportunities to do so.

Looking for the Ordinary

Peter and John did not need to go far to find someone needing compassion and healing. People begging for alms were common in the streets of Jerusalem, particularly near the temple. Jesus was continually healing those of all circumstances, conditions, and needs who came or were brought to Him. Whether needs are physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or otherwise, we need to be aware of them and willing to give "such as [we] have."

Three 7-day Christian women whose dear friend had just died were aware of suffering much greater than their own—the single mother who had just buried her only child.  The day after the funeral and burial, the three drove to the mother's home with flowers and the desire to share loving memories of their friend. None of them will forget this precious experience.

Another 7-day Christian woman, who was especially active in her congregation, noticed that two non-Christian women living in her neighborhood did not seem to know or relate to anyone.  She contacted them, visited them, and showed her genuine desire to learn about them as individuals, including their interests, ideas, and opinions.  During years that followed, she visited, sent cards and occasionally dropped off small gifts. Both the giver and the receivers came to treasure the friendship. These two women were not interested in Christianity, but the difference did not affect their friendship.

People in a small stricken community in Florida were trying to dry and clean possessions that had been submerged by Hurricane Ian, the worst hurricane in Florida since 1935. They were surrounded by filthy water with no water safe to drink, until they saw volunteers driving up and down the streets giving out cases of bottled water.

Ordinary, everyday people helping ordinary everyday people? Inspirational Christian writer C.S. Lewis didn't think so. Considering the infinite potential of God's children,

The dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves . . . . There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.

Sharing the Joy of Service

When the lame man walked and leaped into the temple, those who saw him were amazed and rejoiced in his healing. Joy becomes more precious when shared. To the Galatians (5:13-14), Paul wrote, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word . . . ; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

Within days of the desperate water distribution, people from the less damaged areas of Florida began arriving to help clean up and save what could actually be cleaned up and saved. Many 7-day Christians from other areas of the U.S. came as well. In the future when Ian becomes a footnote, those who were there will not forget the compassion and service.

A violent natural disaster is not required to bring out the compassion, love, and unselfish service of 7-day Christians. In Mesa, Arizona, Marcia, a former teacher, uses some of her classroom and personal skills to help people who are in a secure unit for dementia, brain injuries, and other forms of high confusion. Her service includes reading to people, helping them to write poems, and spending time listening to them. She will soon begin giving singing lessons to a man who formerly enjoyed conducting small choirs in his Christian church.

Some who want to serve are unable to commit to a facility. But those near recovering cancer patients can join a group offering transportation to their hospital or doctor's office for treatment.  Those who speak (or somewhat speak) the language of refugees or immigrants in their area might contribute to translation services for adults or for children with school challenges. Many people use their computer skills to record stories for family histories or great-grandparent memories.

As the mother of eight children, Regan was experienced at coordinating clothes to fit each given kid at a given time. "So why not just open it up?” she asked. In an empty bedroom in her home, she created the "revolving closet," inviting other parents to bring clothes that no longer fit their children to exchange for clothes that did. Regan has a lot of enthusiastic families, as well as participants from schools and daycare centers. She loves "being able to meet people from a wide variety of walks of life and feel like they’re genuinely [her] friends."

Contributing to Larger Efforts

When a crowd gathered to see the lame man who was miraculously healed, Peter reached beyond the momentary happening to deliver a strong testimony of the Savior. The healing was in the name and by the power of Jesus Christ. The significance needed to be acknowledged and celebrated.

After distribution of water and gathering of carloads in Florida, 10 local and national organizations combined to provide Ian aid.  Loving Christian service occurs on individual, group, and more inclusive levels.

In South Africa, Dieke Mphuti, 16 years old, had been the sole provider and care giver for her three siblings since their parents had died several years ago. Finding enough food was hard during good times, but impossible during COVID shortages and hardships. Neighbors helped when they could, but these children were often hungry.

Then two strangers knocked at Dieke's door; one an area Christian representative, and the other from South Africa's Department of Social Development. Together these organizations were taking food to those needing it. The cornmeal and other staples they brought helped Dieke feed her family during weeks before government aid began to arrive.

Many Christian organizations join with groups from other religions (e.g., Muslim aid) as well as secular groups (e.g., Red Cross) to relieve suffering worldwide.

Whether healing physical problems, rescuing flood victims, providing emotional support, aiding disabled individuals, engaging in home-based cooperatives, or contributing to religious and secular organizations to fight hunger and other tragedies, those who follow Christ follow His teachings and His examples of love, compassion, and service. This is the greatest gift He asks us to share.

10/21/2022 5:32:30 PM
  • featured writer
  • Brad Wilcox
    About Brad Wilcox
    Brad Wilcox has lived in Ethiopia, Chile, New Zealand, and Spain; he and his family now make their home amid the Rocky Mountains in the United States. Brad taught sixth grade before obtaining his PhD in education. His contributions as an author and teacher have been honored by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and his work has appeared in Guideposts magazine and Reader's Digest. He once served as a member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America and has addressed thousands of youth and adults across the globe. He and his wife Debi have four children and nine grandchildren.