The Gate Called Beautiful

There's a story in the book of Acts Chapter 3 about a lame man who receives a supernatural healing. Today I found something deeper hiding between the words,waiting to be discovered.

Two of Jesus' closest friends, Peter and John are going to the temple at the daily hour of prayer. This was a common experience for them. It was the mundane, nothing out of the ordinary. They had probably gone to the temple at this hour of the day countless times before. Yet this time was different. (There is really no such thing as the mundane when you are hanging with the Person of Jesus.)

The story tells us that a man who was "lame from his mother's womb" was laid daily at the gate of the temple called Beautiful so he could beg for money. Again, the word "daily" lets us know this was a common occurrence. Everyone was used to seeing this man lay at the gate with his cardboard sign asking for spare change.

However, do you find it a bit ironic that sitting in front of a gate named "Beautiful", we find a thin, frail man who is unable to walk and stricken with poverty? His appearance and disposition must have been a sore contradiction for those walking through the Beautiful gate. Perhaps he purposefully placed himself there to pull the heart strings of those entering the temple.

What stood out to me was this. Our invitation as friends and cohorts with Jesus is to transform that which is hurting and ugly into something beautiful. It is no coincidence that this man was sitting outside of the beautiful gate. He is a picture of the fallen human condition. He was a test of perception. Could Peter and John see past his outward appearance to the truth?

Sometimes true beauty lies behind that which is not beautiful. Sometimes the extraordinary lies between the cracks of the ordinary. Sometimes the gateway to beauty comes by our initiating transformation.

Peter bid the man to look up at him. The mans expectations were merely to receive money from him. (That was probably his only dealings with people.) But Peter had come to blow his expectations away. He gave him something far beyond his expectations.

"Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you; In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them - walking and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that this was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him."

The question for us is this: Who do we most identify ourselves with? The lame man at the gate who was unable to change his situation or Peter and John who walked in a bold confidence and power that though they had no natural resources, they had a supernatural ability to bring change and to beautify?

If I were honest, I would say that my own life tends to toggle between the two. Some days I do feel like that lame man at the gate waiting for someone or something else to come and change my situation for me. But when I wake up to the truth and realize who I am and what God has placed inside of me, I become the one initiating the transformation I seek.

We are called to be the beautifiers of the earth, the restorers of the earth. We are called to transform that which sits outside the Beautiful Gate begging into something that dances, shouts and leaps for joy.

The gateway to beholding beauty is recognizing and unlocking the beauty in the world in front of us.

Don't see those things that call for our time and attention as blockades to going through the gate. See them as the Lord coming to us in "a different form". Just like the fairy tales when the old lady is really a princess underneath. Our response to her determines our experience.

The lame man at the gate was beauty waiting to happen. He was opportunity waiting to be unlocked. How many countless people walked by him and saw just a beggar? Then finally someone came by and saw the truth of his potential and who he truly was hiding underneath his condition. They reached out, called him forth, helped him up and then watched him cause the entire city to marvel with wonder at what he had become.

Enter the Beautiful Gate. Give us eyes to see.