Depending on Christ's Strength (Acts 9:32–43)

Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.” (Acts 9:32–43, ESV) Acts Blog Image

First, we see an encounter between Peter and the man named Aeneas in Lydda. He had been bedridden for 8 years, which pointed to the severity of his paralysis in his legs. He was lame and unable to walk. Peter told Aeneas, “Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed!” How beautiful and humbling that the authority in which Peter performed this miracle was not of his own powers (which he had none) but of the power of Jesus Christ. Peter knew, that Jesus was working in miracles and encounters such as this to build his church. Although, Jesus could not be physically seen, he was working and his church was growing.

Second, we read that a disciple name Dorcas became ill and passed away. She was a vital member of her community full of good works and charity. Her people adored her. They washed and prepared her lifeless body and laid her in an upper room. Lydia, the town in which Peter was visiting was located close to Joppa where the precious body of Tabitha (Dorcas) laid limp and lifeless. The disciples called for Peter and sent two men urging him to come quickly. Peter followed. When he arrived, they took him to the upper room where Tabitha’s lifeless body laid. The widows and those gathered in that room were filled with grief. Their mourning was heard through their weeping. They embraced articles of clothing that were handcrafted by their beloved friend as if to catch a breath of her scent. Peter asked all those who gathered in the upper room to step outside. When the room cleared, Peter knelt down and prayed, then turning the body, he spoke, “Tabitha, arise!” Breath began to fill her lungs once again, her eyes opened and she sat up when she saw Peter. Her once lifeless body was now alive. He gently offered his hand and helped her up. Peter called for those he asked to leave the room and presented her, alive. Word traveled all throughout Joppa and many believed the Lord.

We must never forget that we are disciples in name of Jesus Christ. We must deflate our pride as we exalt the precious and mighty name of Jesus Christ. When we use our gifting’s for God's glory, we follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. From this passage we see that Peter acknowledged Jesus Christ as the ultimate source in which he was able to heal Aeneas and raise Tabitha to life. It was not of his own might but by the power of God. He surrendered his pride and allowed the spirit to work through him to further the Gospel and the name of Jesus.

In what areas of your life do you need to acknowledge Jesus Christ as your ultimate strength? How do you need to use the gifting’s he has given you?

Diversity in the Unity of the Local Church

The wonderful truth of the church is that there is unity in diversity. If you look around your church on a Sunday morning you might wonder how this diverse group of people came together. Everyone is so different! From their skin color to their personalities to their gifts to the social class to their tax bracket, the body of Christ is diverse. Yet despite all these differences there is unity in the diversity. This ecclectic group of people are one in and through Jesus Christ. What do all these people have in common? That they have been forgiven and redeemed through Jesus. Yet despite the clear diversity we see on Sunday morning, so often we want people to fit into a certain Christian mold. We have this idea of what a good Christian in our church looks like, and we overemphsize certain gifts more than others. A teacher is shown more prestige than the humble servant taking out the garbage after a church funciton. Yet, in our unity the church is diverse. We can't expect everyone to be a clone. Steve Taylor, one of the early pioneers of the Christian music scene, had a song called "I want to be a Clone". It was a funny tounge-n-cheeck type song that highlighted this problem. He sings:

They told me that I'd fall away Unless I followed what they say Who needs the Bible anyway, I want to be a clone Their language, it was new to me But Christianese got through to me Now, I can speak it fluently, I want to be a clone

This is exactly what we do to the diverse group of people in our churches. We want them to fit the traditional idea of what a christian looks like in our culture, complete with a icthus on your car and a chessy Christian t-shirt that says "Abreadcrumb and Fish".

As the New Testament talks about the church, it emphisizes its unity but also its diversity. In Romans 12:1-8 Paul emphasizes both the unity and diversity in the church.

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:3–8, ESV)

You see all though we are one body, there are many parts. Each Christian has been gifted differently and are equipped to serve the body differently. Some are gifted for leadership, some are not. Some are gifted in teaching, some are not. Some are more prone to mercy, some struggle. Some are more prone to serving, some struggle. You see, every Christian is unique and different, called my God to serve the body in a unique way. In the unity we have in Jesus, there is a great diversity in the way we serve on another and work together in unity as a church to advance the Gospel.