while he clung to peter and john, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called solomon’s. and when peter saw it he addressed the people: “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 3:11-12]
why do you stare at us, as by our own power
when we look and cling to christian leaders instead of the God they point to, we make them into idols. that, i think, we can all agree on. but what about when we look at their skill? what about when we cling to someone’s intelligence, fervor, or attention to detail? what about when we idolize a particular person’s humility or servanthood? i’ll show what i mean by giving an example of the opposite. moving forward in acts, the rulers, chief priests, the elders, and the teachers of the law notice this about peter and john:
now when they saw the boldness of peter and john, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. and they recognized that they had been with Jesus. [acts 4:13]
peter had just interpreted old testament prophecy from psalm 118–something that might make him look smart. but somehow these unbelieving authorities weren’t left with the impression that they were educated, nor that they were puffed up with arrogance trying to look intelligent, but with the realization that they had been with Jesus.
any gift that we possess can be used to point to us, or to point to Christ. it’s hard to know which one is going to happen. no gift is immune to the possibility of pointing to the self instead of Christ. intelligence, boldness, empathy, love, joy—every one can be used to either effect. i’m not sure scripture gives a complete answer to this, but the beginning of it may lie here, in these words by Jesus to paul:
my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. [2 corinthians 12:9]
love in those not naturally loving, intelligence from simple people, boldness from the meek, meekness from the strong, humility from the skilled, steadfast faith from the anxious—these things most clearly point to Christ. do not fear your weakness: God wants to use it to astonish those stronger than you.
~ stephen hall