Imagine the scene: You see him from across the courtyard; his body is limp, and his face is etched with hopelessness, as two strong men carry him. He’s big and heavy, and the men struggle under the load, finally setting him down next to the gate near where you’re standing. The crippled man keeps his eyes down, and holds his hands out, hoping to earn enough money through begging to eat today. You watch from a distance, and then walk over to talk to the man. “Look at me,” you say. And then you give this man what you have: the power of Christ to work in his life.
I often imagine myself in the scene of scripture to try to capture the beauty and power of the passage. I’m no theologian, but this scene at the beginning of Acts 3 moves me to tears. Today I imagined from a different perspective: that of Peter instead of the crippled beggar.
I immediately thought of my friend,Kathy Bolduc. Her book His Name is Joel, chronicles her journey as a Mother with a child who is autistic. I met Kathy at a writer’s retreat, and her powerful story has stayed with me. One of the things she discusses in her book is how churches can reach out to families who have children with special needs. Expecting to find information on how to form a committee or special program, I was surprised to find her simple advice: accept this child. Welcome him or her into your faith community. Look them in the eyes and talk to them.
I thought of this advice today. Too often, we look away from need. It makes us uncomfortable, especially when we can do nothing to fix it. But as a follower of Jesus, I need to look people in the eyes. I need to see from His perspective, instead of my own.
I cannot offer a solution to the problems of the world, but I can give people this simple dignity: look at me. And I pray that as they do, I will reflect the acceptance and love of Christ.