As you go about your day, how often do you stop and really focus on the person in front of you? This is an area I’ve been trying to improve at work, turning away from my email inbox and giving whoever I’m talking to my whole attention–it’s easy to let yourself get distracted when you’re in virtual meetings!
However, virtual meetings aren’t the only place I get distracted. It’s so easy for me to be focused on the to-do list in my head that I don’t stop and really listen to what my kids are trying to communicate. And being in the season of life I’m in, sometimes I can’t fully focus on an adult I’m talking to, needing to keep half-an-ear out for whatever my kids might be doing.
Peter and John’s Focus
Despite everything going on, there are still opportunities to be attentive to those around me and watch for opportunities to glorify God. That’s something Peter and John modeled in Acts 3:1-11.
To summarize, Peter and John were on their way to the temple to pray and passed by a 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” (vs. 3-5).
Peter said he didn’t have any money, but instead he said, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (vs. 6). The beggar was immediately healed. He jumped up, and went into the temple courts with them, “walking and jumping, and praising God” (vs. 8). Everyone else that was there recognized him as the crippled man who used to sit at the temple gate begging, “and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him” (vs. 10).
Others That Modeled Focus
In his book, Acts Odyssey, Rene Schlaepfer pointed out that Peter and John really looked at the beggar–something Jesus did, too.
He says Peter and John “looked intently” at the man begging . . . Peter and John are seeing him, really perceiving him as a human being in need of Jesus. By using the term he’s associated earlier with Jesus, Luke is reporting that one characteristic of Jesus and his closest followers is that they really looked at people, gave them their full attention.
I know someone who served for a brief time as a missionary in India and once met Mother Teresa. He told me, “The most memorable thing about her was that she really looked intently at you, as if you’re the only person in the room.”
I don’t know about you, but I need to learn to do this. My eyes tend to dart nervously around the room when I’m talking to people, always wondering if there’s something in my environment that I’m missing. But the kind of intent gaze Peter and John have here shows a relaxed confidence, a steady, unhurried belief that God has something for them to receive or give in each moment (page 42).
What people in your life have made you feel most welcomed, loved, appreciated, and valued? For me, it’s the people that made me feel like I had their full attention–like I was the only person in the room. As Rene said, this is something Mother Teresa was good at. I think Mister Rogers was probably good at this, too.
But these Jesus, Peter and John, Mother Teresa, and Mister Rogers aren’t the only two that modeled this. As I thought about people that made me feel especially seen, specific people came to mind: a woman named Dorothy in the church I grew up at; a woman named Fran in the last church family I was part of. Both of them were so good at giving you their full attention, looking intently at you like you were the only person there. They both radiated Jesus’ love.
Focus on Jesus
And that’s another key here. When Peter and John spoke, they kept their focus on Jesus. Rene wrote:
After they look intently at him, another phrase Luke introduces will also echo through the rest of the book . . . [Peter] says, “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, rise up and walk!” Notice that it’s the power of Jesus’ name that counts here and everywhere they’ll go. They’re not about their own resources or cleverness or power. Or their own reputation or influence or brand. It’s all about Jesus.
You and I aren’t dependent on our own resources or cleverness either. And we’re not here to market ourselves as the owners of great spiritual insight for the world. Aren’t you glad? It’s all about “the name of Jesus” . . . it means you recognize you only have any power or authority because of what Jesus did and who Jesus is (page 43).
My Prayer for Focus
Turning the focus back on Jesus isn’t always a popular thing to do (Peter and John were arrested for it). And sometimes I feel like I don’t know how to do it in a bold, authentic way.
I pray the Holy Spirit helps you and me slow down and speaks through us so we can really see and connect with those we come into contact with. I want to focus on the person in front of me–my husband, kids, coworkers, friends, acquaintances, strangers–so they genuinely feel His love and hope through my interactions with them.