Just this morning, as Sarah (my oldest daughter) was getting ready for school, she said, “Do you remember those vanilla ice cream bars they used to sell at Costco? I think my school is now selling them in the lunchroom and I’m going to get one today!”
We can save the conversation about a school selling ice cream for another time. What got me was how excited she was about vanilla ice cream. She didn’t want the one dipped in chocolate. No sprinkles. No nuts.
She was excited about vanilla.
But it’s so plain. So ordinary. So…well…vanilla.
First the summary of Acts 3:1-4:12…
- Peter and John heal a crippled beggar.
- Peter and John tell the crowd Jesus actually did the healing.
- The religious people don’t like all this “Jesus talk” and throw Peter and John in jail for the night.
- In the morning they ask Peter and John, “By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?”
- Peter says, “Hmmm…I think I’m going to go with…JESUS!”
Now for one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible – Acts 4:13
The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.”
I love this verse! It is encouraging, challenging, empowering, and a perspective shift – all in two sentences. Whenever I read this verse, it completely resets my approach to reading and studying the Bible.
First…the perspective too many of us have.
Do you feel like you know the Bible well enough? Do you find yourself frequently telling yourself, “I should read the Bible more. I should know it better. I should be more consistent.”?
I meet very few people who don’t find all these “should” statements entering too frequently into their inner conversation. How about you?
So often, we think that knowledge will lead to boldness. We believe that once we understand the Bible more, God will be able to use us. Once I have taken the Spiritual Gifts Course, or read a few more apologetics books, then I’ll have enough answers to speak up for Jesus boldly.
Second…the perspective we need to cultivate.
Do you see the words and phrases used to describe Peter and John?
“no special training in the Scriptures”
Don’t quote me on this, but I think the original Greek might be “vanilla.” (kidding)
You and I read the Bible and see Peter as a rock or pillar of the early church. We see John as “the one Jesus loved.” We see them as anything but vanilla. But that’s who they were.
Regular, ordinary, vanilla guys.
No special training. No educational, financial, or positional clout.
Here’s the clincher…“They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.”
And there it is. The focus of it all. Being with Jesus.
You are not going to the Word for “special training.” The purpose isn’t to become extraordinary. After all, Jesus is in the business of using our ordinariness to display His extraordinariness. (BTW – I looked those up and they are real words!)
You are going to the Word to be with Jesus. To hang out with Him. To get to know Him. To foster the relationship you said “yes” to 40 years ago – or 40 minutes ago.
You’ve heard me say it before (and you’ll hear me say it again many times): God’s desire is for you to study the Bible relationally…not just informationally.
Hmmm…that vanilla ice cream bar is starting to sound pretty good…
Question: Is your tendency to read the Bible informationally, or relationally? What is one step you can take to develop a more relational mindset?