As I write this, I am relaxing in a lovely hotel lobby tucked in a corner with soft, daylight filtered through gauze curtains. I am sitting comfortably in a chair with a small orange pillow to support my back and hear the trickle of an artificial waterfall and the laughter and conversation of ladies enjoying fellowship.
This weekend I get the joy of attending a conference for pastor’s wives organized by Rodetta Cook and others from Care for Pastors. So far everything is wonderful and organized in a way that busy pastor wives get a chance to reflect and rest.
Coincidentally, the passage of scripture I read this morning speaks of times of refreshing. When Peter and John experienced the arrival of the Holy Spirit with tongues of fire, their ministry began with a bang. One day heading to the temple, they meet a man paralyzed laying on the steps. Seeing him begging for alms, John says,”Look at us.” (Acts 3: 4b). The man gives them his full attention and Peter and John offer the true gift they have–healing in Jesus’s name. The response of the people around them is immediate and excessive as they begin to look at Peter and John as though they were some kind of supernatural beings. Peter quickly corrects them using questions to remind them of who is really to be praised: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?” (Acts 3:12 ESV). He goes on to explain that it is through Jesus alone that this man was healed.
This scenario brings to light a typical problem we can see in churches. There is a danger of looking to people, or even philosophies, as the Savior instead of Christ. Pastors, ministry staff, pastors’ wives, and many others, might be the vehicles through whom Christ brings healing, but they are not to be confused with Christ Himself. To do so hinders the work of Christ and seriously hinders the messenger. Why? Because those who do God’s work are only people. They are not the fullest revelation of who God is. Colossians tells us that only Christ is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).
Indeed as Peter continues to share, he gives the audience the true prescription for healing: “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, and times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus…: (Acts 3: 19-20). The first step is always marked by repentance. Perhaps this is suggested when the paralyzed man gave Peter and John his full attention. Repentance is so much more than feeling sorry about where we are. It means stopping in our tracks, giving God our full attention, agreeing with Him about our situation, and wanting change. This passage is clear about the results of this big move: times of refreshing. And with these times of refreshing comes this hope that “he may send the Christ appointed for you.” When I read this earlier this morning, I thought it sounded weird. What does Peter mean “send us the Christ”? I haven’t done the research to see how scholars have interpreted this, but I do not feel it is misleading to think that this is a hope for Christ’s divine presence. We all know that everything is changed when Christ shows up. Because when He does, the impossible is achieved, the hardest hearts are softened, and directions are changed.
For the man paralyzed and begging on the steps, his healing was not really in the form of Peter and John (however impressive they might have been). Instead, it was the coming of Christ that reached into his broken body and changed what only God can change.
So here I am at a conference meant to encourage those messengers who are actively seeking to bring Christ to others. I feel a bit of an imposter knowing that I do not give the way these women give. So I pray for these battle-worn ladies that God will send the Christ appointed to them, so they can go back into the fray and point the way to the only Healer and Redeemer we have.