Two people (a husband and a wife) lie in church–about how much money they are putting in the offering plate(!)–and the Holy Spirit strikes them dead?! Pretty much. That’s the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5.
If you are a normal person this story strikes you as (a) really strange and hard to believe and (b) extremely troubling. Is the Lord really this capricious?
Some quick thoughts:
- I think The Bible Project video does a good job of connecting the Ananias and Sapphira episode with the story of the stricken priests in Leviticus.
- The presence of the Lord is not something to dishonor or mock: God’s Spirit is a Holy Spirit, and he doesn’t work for us. He is, to paraphrase Lewis, “not a tame God.”
- It is dangerous, the Bible tells us, to think that God can be manipulated for our own purposes.
- I think Luke also wants us to understand that the one thing that will kill the church is the pretense that we are better than we are. Note that Peter makes it clear that the capital sin of Ananias and Sapphira was not withholding back part of the proceeds of the real estate sale–it was theirs to do with as they pleased–but that they lied and pretended that they were giving all of their profit.
- It’s okay that the Bible stories trouble us. If the Bible were merely a human document, then we might expect to immediately understand and agree with all of it. Because, however, the Bible comes from God, we should expect it to confront, convict, and trouble us. It’s at the places where we are most troubled that we should pay the most attention.
- The Lord is gracious, but grace is not cheap and grace is not guaranteed. To presume that we can do whatever we want and not face consequences is to not understand grace.
So, some questions for reflection:
- What is it that most troubles about this story? Why?
- Are there places in your life in which you are trying to manipulate God?
- Where are you putting up a false front? Where in your life are you trying to pretend to be better than you are? (One thinks of social media….)
How to subscribe:
I’ve written a very short whitepaper on a subject I care a lot about–communication.
Click HERE to subscribe to my newsletter and I’ll send it to you for free:
The Simple Technique Anyone Can Immediately Use To Become a Better Communicator.
(If you are already a subscriber, drop me a line and I’ll send you the whitepaper.)