How long have you been goin’ to church? Maybe you don’t have a perfect attendance pin, but you’ve been showing up on most Sundays for a long time. Right?
Is there a brass plaque at the end of your pew? “These seats were bought and paid for by Mr. and Mrs. I. M. Phaithphul.” Every week. The same spot? The preacher would go cross-eyed if you sat somewhere else. You’re a church-goer.
Your neighbor, the one who reads the Sunday Gazette on the patio, has memorized your comin’s and goin’s. Your garage door goes up at the same time every Sunday. If you slept in, he’d think you were sick... or worse. He knows you’re a church-goer.
The guy in the third chapter of Acts had been going to church for almost forty-years. He couldn’t walk, so his family members or his buddies carried him and plopped him down at the church door. Right there, on the same paving stone, in the same spot, for forty years.
Ok... it wasn’t the church door. According to Luke, it was the “Beautiful Gate.” That’s the gate on the western wall of Jerusalem, just outside of the temple. He was a permanent fixture.
For the guy in Acts 3, every day was about like the last. He went to church to beg for a few coins. The oil tycoon didn’t pass by to unload his wallet, nor did the Wall Street big wig. Every day was about the same. When his pals came back to carry him home, he might have collected enough to buy bread to live another day.
Is that the picture of most church-goers? Every Sunday’s about like the last. We hope to get enough religion to make it another week. But we rarely, if ever, experience something downright life-changing.
The forty-year old cripple was in his spot. It was just another day. Until... “Peter and John were going up to the temple for the time of prayer at three in the afternoon” (Acts 3:3, CSB) They looked down at him, and he looked up at the two. Peter spoke, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!” (Acts 3:6, CSB).
“In the name of Jesus...” In the powerful, life-changing, glorious name of our Savior and Lord ... in the name of Jesus ... everything changed!
“Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles became strong. So he jumped up and started to walk, and he entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized that he was the one who used to sit and beg at the Beautiful Gate” (Acts 3:7-10, CSB).
He encountered Jesus. That day, a debilitated and nearly lifeless church-goer became a vibrant Jesus-follower! He encounter Jesus, and he was forever transformed!
Consider this, fellow church-goers ... When we go to church, do we really expect to encounter Jesus?
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor