I have a tough time with some televangelists. It’s not so much that they’re on TV, but when their message sounds more like crowdsourcing, I get a little uneasy. Recently, one such leader garnered a great deal of attention because he said he believed God was calling him to raise sixty-five million dollars for a private jet. This is not a joke. This really happened.
While there are pastors and teachers using television as a positive medium, it’s difficult to think that a sixty-five million dollar jet (for example) was being explicitly purchased to further the glory of God.
What a contrast this draws to the very real healing and teaching ministry of Peter and John that we see in Acts 3. They were incredibly clear about their allegiance to God and the message He had given them. They healed not to gain attention or power, but because it was an imitation of the work of Christ.
Peter exclaimed to the lame man: “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6). Not in Peter’s name, not in John’s name, but in Jesus’ name. That distinction is crucial.
As would probably happen today, a large crowd gathered around Peter and John in the wake of the miraculous healing. Again, we witness the apostles paying tribute to the plans and power of God. Peter proclaimed: “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? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him” (Acts 3:13).
The “whys” and “hows” of physical healing and restoration are still a mystery to me, but what is clear is that Peter and John could not have brought healing apart from the power of God. Their mission had a distinct emphasis on making the name of Jesus great among the nations.
Peter and John didn’t pull any punches about this mission when addressing the crowd. Instead of leveraging their moment in the spotlight for their own glory and gain, they actually risked quite a bit when they told the people that the very power which healed the lame man also was condemning the people for their lack of repentance.
No jets here, folks. In fact, I imagine Peter and John didn’t receive much of a love offering in exchange for their encouraging message.
So, what’s the point?
The sixty-five million dollar speck in our neighbor’s eye is often easier to see than the plank in our own. For you and me, the temptation to glorify our own names might be wrapped in seemingly benign packaging.
When we invest in our family life or career, it’s easy to pay lip service to God. But all good things can become ways we seek to inflate our reputations and perceived importance. However, with the right posture, these relationships and actions can also work to give credit where credit is due. They can point back to God, the Giver of all good gifts.
To have the most meaningful impact, we have to worry about our success and influence less and less, and the gospel more and more.
If we are really committed to the work of following Jesus, it looks and feels like picking up our crosses and following Him. We get to participate in the resurrection, to be sure, but to get there we too have to die to ourselves, our desires, and our need to make our own kingdom great. For Christ to increase, we must decrease (John 3:30).
Written By Andrew Stoddard