Submit to who?


Acts 14:8-10   Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. 

This begins with nothing much out of the ordinary. A man, Paul, was talking to a group that had gathered around him to hear what he was saying. Then God reveals to us that Paul realized or, saw, that this man who had been crippled from birth “had faith to be made well.” Paul recognized that this man was ready to exercise faith. 

I think this shows that for the healing to take place both men needed to have and exercise (or act on) their faith. Paul cried out “in a loud voice.” In doing so he exposed himself to potential public failure. What if it didn’t work? What if, after crying out like that the man couldn’t stand on his feet? I don’t think I have this kind of bold faith. I am ready to pray for someone who needs healing. But to shout it out in the presence of a crowd, I don’t think I am ready for that. I am shy. I don’t like to be so publicly exposed. I don’t even like to do exercise in front of my wife, Yuka. 

But Paul was in the process of speaking to this crowd when he noticed the crippled man. Perhaps a better comparison would be in a church service when I am there as a guest speaker. The crowd is already listening to me. I have given up my privacy and in faith I hope that God will use my words to bless, encourage and even inspire them. However, It’s hard for me to imagine interrupting the message to shout out to a crippled man in the congregation to get up. But that seems to be exactly what Paul did, he interrupted his message in a spontaneous response to the Holy Spirit and acting on faith he told the man to get up. . . . and he did get up. He tried what had been impossible for him for his entire life. And as he tried, God enabled and life flowed into his previously dead limbs. 

I wonder why, if he had the faith to be made well, he waited until Paul told him to get up. Why didn’t he just get up on his own? From the text we can clearly see that he already had the faith to become well. But in every case revealed to us in Scripture there is this kind of interplay between two people and God. One has the gift to heal, the other had need and God enables healing with the power of His Spirit. The only instance I can remember where someone prayed for his own healing was Paul when he prayed for relief from the “thorn in his flesh.” This only instance of prayer for healing of one’s self results in no healing. 

To receive healing and so often to receive salvation we must first submit to God’s messenger as an act of submission to God. It seems that God has planned that we each submit to one another (Eph. 5:20-21 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.)

Submit to one another . . . . out of reverence to Christ.