Some weeks ago I preached a message in my own church entitled “When the Church Meets the World.” I took the words of Acts 3 and explained what happened when Peter and John met a lame, forty-year-old beggar outside the temple in Jerusalem. That poor man was a picture of sheer wretchedness—poor, helpless, and crippled—and it appeared that he was destined to die as he had lived.
So how did Peter and John respond to him? Think of this. We are surrounded by wretched sinners. Some are drug addicts, some are trapped in immorality and vice, some are religious but filled with pride. In short, we live among men and women marked with total depravity.
So how must we respond? When Peter met the lame man, he “fastened his eyes on him.” That phrase is used by Luke twelve times, and it is designed to make us realize that Peter looked on the man in order to excite his attention and raise his expectation. Peter and John had a real interest in the man’s case. They stopped with him and spoke with him and did so in a way that indicated their compassion for him.
The church should have compassion on needy souls. As a young man, the famous Scottish preacher Robert Murray M’Cheyne spoke of hearing the tramp, tramp, tramp of sinners on the way to hell, and he was burdened for them. I fear that too often we are taken up with ourselves, and we fail to see a world ruined and wretched in sin. Let’s pray that our spiritual vision would be corrected, and let us see men and women as sinners ruined by the fall who need Christ.