Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man . . . Acts 4:8-9
I’ve been known for a lot of things in my adult life – some good and some bad. I’ve been known as a reasonably good ER physician. I’ve been known as an adventurous, involved father. Unfortunately, I’ve also been well-known for my most self-destructive, addictive behaviors. Almost a year after the events leading up to it, my name showed up in the paper, describing my disaster in some vivid detail. I’ve always been a bit overly concerned about what others think, so that was miserable for me, but not nearly as miserable as it was for those close to me. It was horribly embarrassing and shameful as I suddenly went from well-known and well-liked to notorious and disreputable.
We shouldn’t be primarily concerned with what the world thinks of us, but as Christians and as Jesus’ hands and feet here on Earth, we’re supposed to live in a manner becoming of him. If we engage in evil, destructive behavior – while claiming to follow Christ – that reflects poorly on him and damages our credibility as his followers.
The world won’t always like us though, even when we’ve done nothing wrong. This is what happened in today’s passage. In the story, Peter and John were arrested after healing a lame man. The religious leaders didn’t like that they were giving the credit to Jesus. In their defense, Peter asked exactly what the objection was, “Are you offended that this man was healed? Really? I’ll tell you who healed him. It was none other than Jesus, whom you crucified.” (my paraphrase) The religious leaders, though they hated the disciple’s message, couldn’t charge them with anything because they’d done nothing except heal a handicapped man.
This is how we should seek to live. We should live so that no one can find fault in our actions. So many times, we claim to follow Christ, but then we simply continue to follow ourselves. We should be kind, gracious, loving, and giving, but instead, we’re self-destructive, judgmental, greedy, selfish, condescending, and prideful. As Christians, if others are going to notice us and object to us, it should be for doing good, so that they have no legitimate cause to oppose us. If we’re to be notorious, let it always be for the right reasons.