Turns out God agrees with you. Acts 5.1-11
11/6/2016 10:32:06 PM
What people have said about Christians ...
how God agrees with them.
Turns out God agrees with you. Acts 5.1-11
Why in the world did God strike Ananias and Sapphira, husband and wife, dead after they lied? See, the two sold a piece of land, and brought the money to share with those in need in their community, saying they had given the entire amount to the apostles. In reality, they had held back a portion of the money—that is to say, they lied. Was God being overly tough on the two? After all, they were voluntarily giving their own money to folks, right?
Several days ago, I asked for your thoughts on God’s judgment, and a number of you responded. This came from a young woman who I greatly admire: “Perhaps God struck them both dead in order to give an example of how powerful God is. Perhaps it was intended to give people the "fear of God" and to take God seriously. For instance, people "shared everything they had" (Acts 4:32) & for Ananias & Sapphira to flat out lie about it INTENTIONALLY was selfish on their part...but this shouldn't be in a community where believers were supposed to be united in both heart and mind.
I think that God judged their sin harshly because dishonesty, greed, and covetousness are destructive in a church community and it would have hindered the work of the Holy Spirit. I think that after reading this story, it might seem like it contradicts the truth of God's love and forgiveness, (however, isn't that what we ALL deserve for our sin? We've all fallen short.) But if our emphasis is always on grace and forgiveness, we aren't seeing God for other characteristics that he also possesses—that he is almighty and holy--deserving our best. I think that this story proves how much God hates sin and won't tolerate it in the church.” Thoughtful insights.
Just the mental exercise alone is valuable. Why does God do the things he does?
As we look at God’s swift action with Ananias and Sapphira, we must zoom out and take a wider angle view. The Jerusalem believers are growing in intimacy, faith and numbers. At the end of chapter four, Luke (the physician who is good with details of names of people and their hometowns and such—which serves to set them in history), succinctly tells of Joseph (the first mention of the one called “Barnabas”) who sold his land and brought the proceeds forward to help his brothers in need.
There was an atmosphere of authenticity, generosity and trust in the tightknit community, and maintaining that trust was paramount. Some had lost jobs, and others had been cut off from their Jewish families as they embraced the gospel message of Jesus Christ. The message just didn’t fit with Jewish people who had been awaiting the Messiah who would conquer Rome and overthrow the harsh tyranny under which they lived.
The community of believers was everything to these Jesus followers.
Keeping it pure was so important.
You know, there has been much written in the last several years about outsiders’ views of Christians, and it simply isn’t too positive. Turns out that research shows one of the number one complaints about Christians is hypocrisy1. Turns out God is not fond of hypocrisy either.
God would not tolerate the adulteration of the tender, growing family of believers, particularly from those who professed his name. Repeatedly, Luke writes that the devoted were filled with the Holy Spirit; friend, the Holy Spirit does not coexist with lies, covetousness and pride.
Ha, perhaps if we were to read on-line of a similar scene taking place today at the First Neighborhood Church of Alabaster, we too would have a little more reverent fear of the almighty and holy God, and that he wants us to play it straight. He is either God or he isn’t. If we call him our God then we must value holiness, as he said we are to ‘Be holy even as he is holy.’ 2
Are you thinking about how you can never really be holy? Well, don’t. Invite God to do a cleansing work in you, and to fill you afresh with the Holy Spirit. Ask him to stoke the embers of your desire for him … and he will do it. The more earnestly you and me want to see God,
the more we will pray; and
the more we pray,
the more we will see God show up,
and make himself known.
Ask God to give you a love for his word, and he will do it. I know.
Turns out God agrees with you; he wants us to keep it real and honest. God highly values the bond of believers, and wants us to do the same.
1 Unchristian, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
2 – 1 Peter 1.13-16