Saturday, June 20, 2009

Acts 4:32-5:11. A Blessing-- and a Curse

In considering this passage, it would be easy to go directly to the sobering story of Ananias and Sapphira, at the end of which "great fear seized the whole church." Yes, we too are intended to feel the shock of what happened to the couple. But let us first find the blessing.
The church in Jerusalem shared one heart and one soul. The needs of all were being met through the combined wealth of all. From a purely legal perspective, individuals still had their own property rights, but they did not view them in that way. It must have brought an incredible freedom both to those who had much, and to those who had less. And there were repeated examples of incredible generosity, of which one specific example, Barnabas, whose name means and shouts encouragement across the millennia, is cited. And the example resonates for us as well.
However, here, as everywhere since the Fall, Satan was busy, and two people (as at Eden) accepted the lie that it would be even better to "have your cake and eat it too"--i.e., they could represent themselves as having given all, with corresponding honors, and get a few benefits on the side and on the sly. (Satan's even bigger lie, and one that is a snare for many of us today, was that they couldn't both give freely and fully and meet their own needs.) And they died--I think--of their own mortification, when the lie that they told was exposed.
In our own community of faith, when we are presented continually with examples of how unfettered sharing leads to a multiplication of blessings as we partner with God to do his work--let us not hold back. O Lord, guard us from the temptation to seek praise and honor for less than the fullest and complete outflow of our hearts. And may our heart and soul truly be One. Amen.

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