I’ve been spending some time in Acts lately. This morning, I was reading about Peter and John:

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.
Acts 3:1-2 NIV

Think about this picture for a minute. There is a person, crippled from birth, begging at a gate called “Beautiful.” Is this not a picture of our society today? Men and women, “broken” from birth, begging for acceptance at an illusive “gate” called “Beautiful.” A gate that promises to lead to happiness and fulfillment, but was built on society’s version of beautiful and often leads only to more emptiness.

It’s easy to think of a young woman with an eating disorder, or a body-builder on steroids, or a woman provocatively dressed to show off her latest plastic surgery, desperately pounding at that gate. But, I’ll be honest. While I haven’t personally worn the exact shoes of those hypothetical people I listed, I’ve done my time at that gate. Truthfully, I’m still occasionally lured back there. You, too? It would be almost impossible not to.

That gate called Beautiful has had billions of dollars pumped into its construction. It’s had the best marketing money can buy. It plays into every one of the senses possessed by broken humans like us, luring us there like flies to honey, making us believe that if we just buy in, we’ll be loved and provided for…we’ll find the wholeness we’re lacking.

Fortunately, a lot of years ago, some passersby met me at that gate, not unlike Peter and John did that crippled beggar:

When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Acts 3:3-10 NIV

I was offered not the “silver and gold” illusions of the world, but healing in the Name of Jesus Christ; not the emptiness of counterfeit beauty, but the fulfillment of authentic beauty.

While we’re still on this side of glory, the lure of the gate will still be there. But if we’ve had a holy encounter there, we don’t have to linger. Unless, of course, it’s to help another beggar to their feet.

Photo credit: Casperonian