By David J. Wood, Senior Pastor, GreenLake SDA Church, Seattle, Washington

Summary: Owning assets holds no evil in itself, and prioritizing what is spiritually important keeps potential dangers at bay.

How simple are you?! complained my computer-wizard friend, Sam, midway through my enthusiastic homily on Peter’s miraculous escape (Acts 2). What Sam’s interruption implied of course is that no post-modern sophisticate takes seriously Scripture’s claim of angels plucking saints from prisons, and my faith makes him shake his head cynically. Even though his worldview cannot allow for divine intervention in our mortal mess, it strikes me—somewhat ironically—that his expressed taunt inquires more astutely into Peter’s lifestyle than it does mine.

The Greek implies that Peter slept like a log the night before his set execution. Why? If I were chained to two soldiers and my path was blocked to the dungeon’s huge iron gates, I would squirm sleeplessly through my final hours. Yet the angel ended up hitting Peter to get his eyes open. Quick, get up! he said. And the chains fell off Peter’s wrists (vs. 7). Even then, the angel led this dazed fisherman down the length of a street until familiar sounds and smells restored Peter’s wits.

Was Peter simply tired? Or, more likely, did he simply possess a faith approach to life? No matter how you interpret the story, even my friend Sam had to admit that Peter’s sense of peace was attractively uncomplicated. What of tomorrow? Death held no fear for a man whose life lay in his Master’s hands. All he sought was a deeper connection with God, whose blessings since Pentecost had filled him with a spiritual jubilation.

The ultimate proof of his simplicity and contentment came as Peter ran to the home of Barnabas’ aunt. After bursting through the doors, He praised God for sparing him from certain death, and nurtured the worried faithful.

Simplicity for Peter was a chosen attitude—not a weakness. He was, after all, a married man who owned a house and ran the family fishery. He was also the natural leader whom Jesus endorsed for his inspirational power. Yet what mattered most to Peter was not his relative wealth or influence, but how he used them with unceasing simplicity.

We can learn much from this great apostle. Owning assets holds no evil in itself, and prioritizing what is spiritually important keeps potential dangers at bay. For the rest of Peter’s calling as an apostle, he used his resources for the church in Jerusalem and beyond, braving great difficulties from the simple perspective of serving God for the good of all.

The question we must then ask ourselves is Sam’s challenge to me, How simple are you? How uncomplicated is your faith? The divine intruder Slow down and simplify

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October–December, 2001

Simplicity