Do you remember the story of Sapphira and Ananias in Acts 5?
The story took place after Jesus had died, and it was the start of the Christian Church. The followers were all pooling their resources, and no one went without. People that had processions and land sold them, and brought the proceeds to pool with everyone else’s. They all used those resources to take care of each other, and also to use to further Christ's message.
I have to wonder if Ananias wanted to be like those men that had given up everything. He looked at them as having some status due to what they had given up! I can imagine others were very impressed with that act of faith among those with great wealth. I mean can you imagine? They sold their house and all their processions, and gave everything away to further the cause of spreading the Good news. Can you imagine the awe of others if someone like Bill Gates or Donald Trump did this?
That took great faith to give all your wealth away it would seem to me, and it reminds me of the story within the bible about the man that asked Jesus how he could have eternal life. The story in Mark 10 Jesus told him that he is to go home, and sell all he had to give to the poor after the man insisted that he had been following the laws that had already been laid out. The man walked away very sad, because the thought of letting go of all his wealth? That was just too much for him. Jesus mentioned that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus was asking people to place their faith in God, and that he would take care of you when you leave all behind for him.
STATUS WITHIN THE CHURCH
Those families around Ananias did as God had asked them, and sold everything they had and gave it to God. They had great strength and faith in God that he would indeed take care of them for doing this so that they do as God wished them to do. It could be that Ananias and Sapphira saw them as a ‘status symbol’ that they wished for themselves - we also have great wealth and could give it all away. I'm talking about the 'keeping up with the Jones' type of attitude.
Ananias and Sapphira did indeed decide they would sell off their land, but they agreed between the two of them to hold back some of the money for themselves. They would give part of it for this image they were after. They truly have a hard time letting go as Jesus mentioned as an example with the wealthy man mentioned in Mark 10! This couple didn’t see those that obeyed as wanting to serve God with everything they had, and they did not wish to do this half way. They didn’t see that they had listened to the Holy Spirit, and went ahead and did as they were instructed to do. They didn’t see their great faith as they left everything behind to serve the Lord.
I have to wonder if Ananias and Sapphira were selling their things for this perceived status or something, because they truly were not doing it for the same reason as the others were. I wonder if that vision of this status was to them like a substitution for them in a way. They gave their land away, and in return they would have the respect and honor of the group around them.
I WANT THE AUTHORITY AMONG US!
Ananias actions in the story I can imagine happening even today. He decided he wanted to be among those men of wealth that sold everything, and gave it to God. If he looked at those other families, and saw honor and respect among others due to their faith – yet he saw actions. He wanted to be part of the in-crowd among the other followers. Was he was trying to squeeze himself into the 'in crowd' as we say today. I have seen others do this in other ways, because they wished leadership, rank, honor, authority, etc. They want to buy that title of one of the top dogs! It may have looked good on the outside, but was very ugly on the inside.
Lets take a look at Sapphira his wife as well for a minute! I can imagine her lavishing in this imagine as well. HER husband was part of the in crowd, and by association of being his wife? So was SHE! They hatched a wonderful plan! They could have what they wanted, and still have their little nest egg on the side. Who would know right? That plan blew up in their faces as God stuck them dead for their greed and deception.
I’m not sure why that image came into my head today about this story. It always sounded rather harsh at the end to me. There are a lot of images in the church of looking so nice on the outside, and yet the inside is so ugly. I see those that claim they wish to give it all up for Christ, and yet they also have that little nest egg on the side for themselves. I think we may all do that to one extent or another at times. I will admit some are a bit extreme in that way!
I see some that want to be viewed as so pious, and yet the grace they shower on others is very conditional. You have those that have this view of ‘how it should be’, and anything else is pagan, evil and not of God. We are to shower the world with Christ’s love, grace and mercy. What you tend to see is the church showing their members how the world is, and saying it in such a way that is scares people to be involved with life. How can we get others to turn their hearts to God, and to be Christ like when we push such hate and fear towards those outside the church? How can we learn to love others when at times you see how hard it is to even love another Christian?
I think with Sapphira and Ananias in some ways saw their actions could buy something, and didn’t want to see the spirit of things. They looked out for themselves first and foremost, and basically saw only what was in it for them. They loved that visual of that status, and they refused to wrap around their heart and soul what God was truly asking of them. They figured they would enter this church though deception. I guess in the end it was God’s way of saying, “You want to bet!”
I see to much 'status' thinking within the church, and at times you have to wonder where did the Grace and Humility go? They blame the 'world' for the huge amount of evil within our mist. They claim they know they are sinners, but use their 'saved' status as some badge of honor. They pummel the 'secular thinking' and the 'feminist movement', and yet are the first to remind you of their 'role'. Talk about stinkin thinkin - its a wonder we aren't falling down dead as well!
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