Who would you want to meet if you could meet anyone, past or present? This question was sprung on me at a "get to know each other" thing for the summer camp staff i served with. Most people stuck with your basic heroic and/or amazing people such as, Moses and Anne Frank. I believe I chose Johnny Cash.
It was an impromptu answer, but it is clear to me now that during those few seconds while everyone was staring directly into my soul awaiting my answer, the most influential of the forces in my brain was Original Oscar. (yeah, i named a section of my subconscious and gave it a persona, just for arguments sake. im not crazy, yet.)
I call him that because he is completely obsessed with being original in everything he suggests to me. He was the reason for my eye-catching hairdo in the 5th grade. Lets just say it was extremely novel. Original Oscar had prevailed once again over Smart Bart, Smooth Steve, Sensitive Sam (of course he rarely wins because he refuses to pull his thumb out of his mouth long enough to get a word in), and the rest of the eclectic group of thinkers that day.
I guess it kind of works like that show, Whos Line Is It Anyway. You know when Drew Carry asks the audience for a suggestion for a game. No matter how loud someone shouts for Ryan Stiles to play an accountant, Drew will always hear the guy in the very back say, "Stripper!". Drew will then burst into laughter and through his cackle manage to say, "Stripper, thank you sir in the back. Ryan you will be playing a stripper who…"
Its unique. People like unique.
Now dont get me wrong, originality was not my only motivation for choosing Mr. Cash. Im a big fan of the Man in Black and firmly believe that if you cannot appreciate Folsom Prison Blues on some level, perhaps your Sensitive Sam should put his thumb back in his mouth. But looking back on that question I think I would have answered it differently. I genuinely believe if someone asked me that question today I would say, Peter. I put the emphasis on the word "genuinely" because, to be quite honest, Biblical characters are not typically on the top of my "I Want to Be You" list.
I think what intrigues me most about Peter is summed up in two passages in the book of Acts. First, let me briefly put the story in context. After healing a crippled begger outside the temple gates, Peter and John began to preach the gospel to those who witnessed the miracle.
Im not exactly sure what kind relationship Peter and John had, but I imagine it as a Batman and Robin-like operation. Peter does most all the talking and John just follows Peters lead, starring at the crippled beggars when Peter does (3:4). I also envision John right beside Peter as he is preaching to the witnesses saying, "Amen!", in the most random places during Peters sermon, forcing Peter to give John these, "I cant take you anywhere" looks.
So, right about the time Peter was thinking of sending John back to the Batmobile, the entire anti-Jesus entourage showed up (4:1). They booked them, took them downtown, and threw them in the slammer for the night.
Cant you hear the conversations they had with the other inmates?
"What you in for?", one convict would say with a scruffy voice.
To which John would awkwardly clear his throat and reply, "Oh, we were, um,
preaching' and stuff", trying to avoid eye contact.
The next day, all the rulers, elders, and teachers of the law met to sentence Peter and John, but they clearly didn't know what they were up against. When asked by what power or what name they performed the miracle. Scripture says Peter became filled with the Holy Sprit.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is a truly amazing experience. While I know that once one has accepted Christ the Holy Spirit is always present in their life, I believe there are also times when the Holy Spirit saturates every inch of you like the sustaining notes of a thousand piece orchestra reverberating through your flesh, and before you realize it you are singing along at the top of your lungs to a song you didnt know that you knew, completely fearless.
I can only remember a few instances in my life where I could say, without a doubt, that I was filled by the Holy Spirit. One came in my high school speech class. We were assigned to give a speech which explained how to do something. My teacher, the strangest lady I have ever met, bar none, said it could be over any topic, so I chose to inform the class on how to present the plan of salvation. I say I chose, but it was more like God chose; I wanted to do how to pick up girls.
Once I accepted that I was going to obey God, I actually became very excited about the speech. My church and I had recently returned from a spring break mission trip to Honduras where we were taught to use the Evaga-cube. It was a fancy little contraption that resembled a rubrics cube (both in appearance and difficulty to operate) that through pictures, told the plan of salvation. Standing in front of that class and going through each step to salvation was one of the greatest encounters with God I have ever experienced.
But my classroom of 20 pimple-faced sophomores could in no way compare to the pressure Peter and John faced before the Sanhedrin. Yet Peter boldly says:
"Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
11 He is " 'the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the capstone.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
You see, Peter is either out of his mind here or completely saturated by the Holy Spirit. I think Peter probably felt like he had just ran full speed off a cliff, grinning ear to ear, because he knew that he was about to fly. I believe God has called all of us to these leaps of faith.
I often have dreams of flying. No plane, no assistance at all; just me and the open skies. If I could have those dreams every night for the rest of my life I would. My sister thinks they mean something psychologically, maybe they do. But it has occurred to me that the feeling I get when I am flying in my dreams is the closest sensation I have experienced to compare with being filled with the Holy Spirit. It is truly incredible. If the Christian life ever feels boring or dull to us, perhaps we are not releasing our worldly inhibitions and soaring on wings like eagles, as the prophet Isaiah writes.
The Sanhedrin is so astonished by Peters reply they had to send them away to reorganize their thoughts.
I bet John was about to wet his robe. "Dude… what? That was awesome."
Upon their return, they command Peter and John they could no longer speak or teach in the name of Jesus. At this point most people would have said,"Yes Sir!", and left in a hurry, but not these two.
Scripture says that they both answered (maybe it was in unison, in true Batman and Robin fashion, like an episodes final words to The Penguin. With his high-tech umbrellas).
19 But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."
This is why I would change my answer from Johnny Cash to Peter. Can you imagine how contagious Peters devotion to Jesus would be?
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