“Power yield, team.” That was a reminder message I put on my cell several years ago for work. It was set to go off to keep my head in the right perspective.
The work at the time was as a Recovery Specialist at Telecare Recovery Center. It was a post-acute, locked facility for court committed mentally ill. I had the higher ground in a power differential with the clients since I had a key to get out and historically had a grip on reality more than they had.
Conflicts sometimes happened and sometimes I would find myself arguing with unreasonable requests in a way that did not always respect the dignity of the person, unlike what was covered in the last post. This brought some tough talk from co-workers and management. But it also bore fruit and I became a better advocate for it.
Where we last left off there was a healing of a crippled man in the temple through these country-boys of northern Palestine that were visiting. The healed man made a spectacle of himself, and who could blame him?
“Acts 3:11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished. 12 When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him.”
Peter is starting off with the same premise that John the Baptist had: Jesus must increase and I must decrease. Peter makes his public address to the crowd that this was not about him very clearly. Peter was very conscious that this was not to be the “Peter Show”.
But that is not to say that there was not an underlying conflict between two mentalities. One is of love and the other is fear. The same John that is in this scene said much later, “Perfect love casts out fear.”
“14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.”
In these verses, there is a confrontation in speaking truth to power (the social worker in me loves that), but it is still paired with yielding the “blame game” high ground.
17 “And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, 20 so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus.”
Now this gets really loaded.
And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.
This is reminiscent of Jesus and later Stephen saying of the executioners, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Peter was a man that had lifted the sword before for Jesus (not Jesus’ idea) and cut a guy’s ear off. Peter has come a long way in this message of love known as the gospel.
Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out
We all need a turning point if we want to truly be people that walk in love and truth. Peter had had his and would have more in years to come. He really wanted them to experience their own clean slate even among those who were in on the crucifixion.
so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord
He was inviting them to Jesus, yes, but also into their community. “Come on in, the water is warm.” This is not too far fetched, because Jesus said, “When two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst.” Otherwise, the call of Jesus is for you and your closet only. That gets toxic fast because, last I checked, I am a sinner. Even Peter’s successor 265 popes later said recently the same thing about himself. To be in the presence of the Lord is to experience Him in community. The “personal Lord and Savior” thing is rhetoric from very American representations of Christianity. In other words, whether Peter is talking to the beggar or the crowd, “To join Jesus is to join us.”
So as for the Christ follower, what does this mean for us when we engage people in an unbelieving society?
God is in control, and we are not meant to do power trips. “Power yield.”
Forgive. Just do it. Acknowledge the weaknesses in those that hurt you and do not emphasize their faults.
Be relational with a sincere heart. Even my clients that were mentally ill (maybe especially so) could see when I was insincere. Be real as a servant and not as one struggling for notoriety. See yourself as called to be servant.
And for those of you that read this who are not calling themselves active Christ followers, I can only say I am sorry for the times we in the Christian community have not walked the walk. I pray that changes and that you consider testing to see if the water could yet be warm.