Day 302 "Sending Community" Acts 13:1 - 15:21
October 29, 2021, 11:22 AM

Day 302—“Sending Community” Acts 13:1 – 15: 21

FYI—chapter 15 is the centerpiece of the followers of the Way, the seemingly simple meeting of apostles and church leaders in a Council that became the model for Christian Council for the next several centuries. We’ll get there, but first something that captured my attention at the beginning of the book of Acts and continues through this section of the book…

In Chapter 14: 9 we read “Paul, looking intently at him…” I know that seems ridiculously unimportant, and yet it catches my attention every time the phrase has occurred, from the first instance with Peter in Acts 3: 4 “Peter, looking intently at him…”, to the next with Paul in 13: 9 when meeting with the magician, Elymas, “Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him…” I don’t know if any of you noticed this phrase, but it made me uncomfortable right from the first example with Peter. I noticed it right away, and I wanted to know more about it, but I also did NOT want to be a person who was being looked at so intently.

Each example has to do with healing or some other supernatural experience. In the case of Elymas, Paul's meeting and staring resulted in temporary blindness in Elymas, blindness that provided a kind of bondage. Healing, as we know, is about loosening the bonds. But it is that intensity, that long stare that these apostles fix on specific people, as if they can see into the souls of the people they stare at that unsettles me, and honestly, I don’t want anyone to look at me like that. Even reading about it made me uncomfortable, stole me from my comfort zone. And then to read it three times through Acts so far was more than coincidental.

What is it about The Stare? Am I uncomfortable thinking about truly godly people being able to supernaturally read my sins out like a really bad novel? Is it the honesty that is implied on both ends? In fact, in the first instance with Peter, the apostle John, who is with Peter, also looks intently at the disabled beggar, and then Peter says to the beggar “Look at us”. It is one thing to have someone stare intently at you, and another to stare right back at them, giving permission for the deep connection that occurs. When we lock eyes with another person, not just glancing, but really lock eyes, something different happens with our connection. We become vulnerable—aren’t the eyes called the window to the soul?

In fact, there is an experiment by a psychologist named Dr. Aron, which was completed in 1997 in which participants answer a series of 36 questions and then stare at each other for four solid minutes. The prediction? That people who complete this will fall in love. Of course the questions are essential, but those final four minutes of staring, those are the clincher. Here’s what one woman wrote about the experience of staring into someone’s eyes for four minutes at the end of the question and answer period:

I’ve skied steep slopes and hung from a rock face by a short length of rope, but staring into someone’s eyes for four silent minutes was one of the more thrilling and terrifying experiences of my life. I spent the first couple of minutes just trying to breathe properly. There was a lot of nervous smiling until, eventually, we settled in.

I know the eyes are the windows to the soul or whatever, but the real crux of the moment was not just that I was really seeing someone, but that I was seeing someone really seeing me. Once I embraced the terror of this realization and gave it time to subside, I arrived somewhere unexpected.

I felt brave, and in a state of wonder. Part of that wonder was at my own vulnerability and part was the weird kind of wonder you get from saying a word over and over until it loses its meaning and becomes what it actually is: an assemblage of sounds.

Spoiler alert: they did fall in love. But these moments of being ‘fully known’ she describes as both terrifying and wonder-full. In our scriptures we read about this possibility of seeing God face to face perfectly in Paul’s letter to the Cornithians: ”For at the moment all that we can see are puzzling reflections in a mirror; then, face to face. I know in part, for now; but then I’ll know completely, through and through, even as I’m completely known,” (1 Cor 13:12).

These apostles who stare so intently at people are seeing with God’s eyes, seeing something on earth that only God in heaven sees perfectly. I am both dreading and yearning for a day when the Holy Spirit is able to see into the darkest parts of me in order to bring healing and light and renewal for all of time. To be completely known and to know God completely…I am terrified and yet, I wonder…

Be blessed, and be a blessing to others,




10-30-2021 at 1:52 PM
Carol Bluni
I have many times thought about the rich young man- Mark 10:21, Jesus, looking at him, loved him, even though He already knew what the young man would do. What does that mean for us? It means so much! You just have to love the love of Jesus!
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