In our world, success if often measured by association. If you want to sell your product, associate it with the right name or profile and people will buy it based simply on association. If you hope to acquire a new job or position, simply access an association with a name or set of names, and you have a greater chance of acquiring your dream career.
As I read Acts chapter 3 this morning, I was caught by Peter's reply to an amazed people. The lame man (whom Jesus had undoubtedly passed countless times as He entered the Beautiful Gate--another story for another time), was healed and Peter launched into an exposition on Jesus. As I read his response to the people's amazement, I wondered how he suddenly linked the death of Jesus to these people. How did he so suddenly have an "in" to the gospel?
There are times I want to redirect a conversation or a person to Jesus and His work, but I'm at a loss. Last night, for instance, I had the opportunity to accompany our local high school choir concert. Afterwards there were words of praise and appreciation, and even as God's enabling came to mind, I struggled with how to honor Him without a false appearance.
Peter and John were able to lead the people directly to Christ because that is how they declared their work to begin with. In verse six, the healing was done in Jesus' Name. So when all marveled at the result, the simply directed the people to Jesus Himself.
How often do I fail to honor and praise God with my life because the work was never done in His Name and strength to begin with! If my life is going to lead and direct others to God, not myself, it must begin with God--with a clear, open declaration, an association with Christ, to myself and others.
Why do I fail? Here are some of the reasons:
1) I excuse the mention of God because I doubt the outcome will glorify Him. What if I "put His Name on it" and it fails?
2) I fear the reaction of others. I don't want to be labeled a "fanatic."
3) Put simply, I don't think I need God's help. I can handle most of life on my own, but will call on Him when I need supernatural power.
4) I don't trust God with the outcome. I want what I want, and I don't trust God with the final result.
It would take more time and space than is here to address each of the above, but it boils down to one thing: I am a glory-hoarder. On the whole, we don't honor and glorify God because we are vain, selfish little creatures who hoard self-adulation and glory. But my God is so big, so strong, and so mighty He can even unclasp these tightfisted, grappling hands as I ask for His help and desire to honor and please Him.
Number one is a lie. My efforts will never achieve an end outside of the hand of God. By putting His Name on my life and living in dependence on Him, I am free from the outcome. My sense of peace and contentment in Almighty God is His fingerprint on my life.
Number two is pride; plain and simple.
Number three is another lie. How do you define the word "nothing" in John 15:5 when Jesus said, "apart from Me you can do nothing?"
Number four is based on "my way." Isaiah 53:6 We all like sheep have turned astray, we have turned, every one, to his own way....