Listening to the podcast New Church, New Way, and their guest was a man named DeAmon Harges – the Roving Listener. And he’s talking about the way Acts 3, a story often called “Peter Heals a Lame Beggar,” isn’t about the healing of the beggar as much as its about the congregation that witnesses, recognizes, and are changed.
It fell on me like a ton of bricks. We Christians hold up this Bible as sacred text, but then spend so much of our time trying to apply it to others. We hear it’s stories and we say, this is why other people need to change, or this is why we need to change them, or this is why we need to change the world, to make it better. Perhaps its holding this up with the codependency and boundary work I’m doing personally, but I don’t think this is what its about. At least not directly. Because the truth I’m beginning to hold on to is, I have no power to change other people or the world at all. The only person I have power over is me.
So when I look to the stories of Jesus preaching against abusive authority, in justice, blindness, and ingratitude I need to look at those tendencies in myself and in my people. And the same holds true when Jesus preaches about healing, and hope, and new birth, these things are for me and my people too.
“Let the one without sin throw the first stone.” (John 8:7). Do the inward work, before you do the outward work. The inward work, changing what is ours to change, that’s all we can do, its all we have to do. And then we live that out. We live out the new, peaceful, gracious, loving Christ-like version of ourselves, and that’s how we change the world. Because we did the inward work, and it makes a difference outward.
And what if you had whole communities of people doing the inward work?