Daily D – 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. ACTS 4:13 (NLT)
Once upon a time, we had a dog named Little Dog. That wasn’t his real name. His name was Olive. That’s because when he joined our family, our daughter could not tell if he was a boy or a girl. He was a fluffy Pomeranian. These are sweet little dogs with terrible breath and very little brainpower.
Little Dog’s thought processes reminded observers of one of those games you hold in your hand where a little ball rolls around different obstacles until you are able at last to make it fall through a hole. You could talk to Little Dog, or LD, and give him clear instructions again and again. He would turn his head slowly from side to side and then, with a shock of recognition, jump up and do what he was told.
He learned to sneeze on command. He learned to bark on command. That was about all he learned. As noted, he was a dog of very little brain.
The sneeze trick was everyone’s favorite. Often people asked how we taught him to do that. It was a simple application of the functions of mirror neurons. These special tools hardwired into our brains make it possible for us to learn through imitation. We reflect what we observe. This is true for body language, emotions, and facial expressions.
Observe a parent with a baby. Parents mimic their baby’s sounds and smiles and stretches. Over time, babies learn how to mimic their parents’ sounds and actions. This continues for years. Somewhere along the way, someone might even say about a father and son or a mother and daughter, “The apple does not fall far from the tree.”
Dogs learn tricks and behavior through the medium of mirror neurons. Children learn how to master the basics of life through mirror neurons. You may have heard somewhere, “People do what people see.”
This was true for Peter and John, Apostles of Jesus. When surrounded in a room full of intimidating authoritarians, they were unintimidated and outspoken. When they were spoken down to, they spoke right back up. When they were threatened and strongly warned, they heeded the instructions of a higher authority and spoke the truth in love. These ordinary men with no special training stood their ground and held their own. How was this possible?
“They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” After spending three years with Jesus, Peter and John were doing and saying what they had seen and heard. Monkey see, monkey do? As it was for them, may it be for me and you.
Each of us has encountered those rare souls who are so kind and gentle there is no explanation for their personal magnetism other than they have been with Jesus. This is not to say they go to church every Sunday, although that is probably true. Instead, these are people who rise to meet Jesus every morning and greet him in prayer with their first thoughts of the day. These are people who invite him into every thought and every moment. These are people who seek to honor him and serve others throughout the day. These are people who say their prayers before bedtime, and whose prayers never really stopped all day long.
These are people others note as having been with Jesus. I have a friend and coworker who was wandering through the aisles of Kroger one morning when she was stopped by someone who remarked, “You have been with Jesus!” This does not happen to me every day. This does not happen to me many days at all. Okay, it has never happened. I guess I need more time with Jesus for the mirror neurons to kick in.
Who do people think I spend the most time with when they look at me? How about you? Whose mannerisms and speech do we carry within us and express in our words and actions?
This week we have seen video of chain swinging, glass breaking, people beating thugs. We have also seen Fort Worth Chief of Police Ed Kraus and Assistant Chief Julie Swearingin kneel in the street with peaceful protestors as Julie led them all in prayer.
More Chief Kraus and Assistant Chief Swearingin and more peaceful protestors who want justice for all, please. More people who have been with Jesus, please. More Jesus, please.
I will spend more time with Jesus that I may reflect him in all I say and do.
Our Father, as John the Baptist said in John 3:30, more of Jesus; less of me. He must become greater. I must become less. I want people to see more of you, to see your grace and to experience your love. May I know you in the immediacy of every moment. May I hear your instruction when I am not sure which way to go. May you fill my mind with your thoughts and my mouth with your words. May you take these hands and feet and put them to work building a better world, a world that looks and acts more like you. Amen.
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Luke 8:24, 25 They came and woke him up, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to die!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves. So they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” (CSB)