Monday, November 26, 2007
i smell a lawsuit...
“What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. (Acts 5:4-5a)
What a neuron-bending story.
Can you imagine if that happened today in First Baptist Church of Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico? Lawyers of family members would be swooping in for the kill. The media would stumble all over itself in a paparazzipalooza. Google would have a million search hits by midnight. Michael Moore would be cueing camera shots. And Pat Robertson would be strangely silent.
I’m pretty sure there would be big money involved. Can you imagine if two people died in your church within three hours after they put serious jack in the offering? It doesn’t even tell us who the “young men” were who came forward and dragged the dead husband out and buried him. And without his wife even knowing. Were they Super-ushers? The Deacons of Doom? Elders of Expiration? Or just a really different job description for the young adult ministry?
What vastly different cultures we live in. When people ask me why we can’t be more like the New Testament church, I have to sigh: is it even possible…and would you really like it? We are light-year cultures removed in so many ways. I’m not saying that’s why it wouldn’t/couldn’t happen now; God transcends cultures. But remember: He did pick a certain one and a certain time to become flesh, or as the Bible puts it, “when the right time came, God sent his Son…” And it wasn’t just to fulfill prophecies; that’s silly—He could have had the prophecies written for any year.
Though people are essentially the same through the centuries, that is, sinners,—(I just had a long discussion with someone who believes the world is progressively becoming more moral; how did he miss Auschwitz, the Communist Gulags, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Darfur, 911, or even Abu Ghraib? And that’s just the last seventy years. Yeah, we don’t draw-and-quarter anymore; we’re just more subtle…)—cultures radically shift.
It just makes you think.
There are so many facets to this story. And Big Questions I would have loved to gotten into: why does that apparently not happen today? Or does it, but we’re not intuitive enough to pick it up and too afraid to touch the judgment question for fear of being, uh, judgmental? And how does grace enter into that equation? Or was that an initial necessity in the launch of this fledgling movement? My theory is that it was critically important to God that the authority and power of the Church not be compromised at the start. Plus, there was just a huge open window to heaven and serious power was being released, just based on the next few verses in the story.
I joked about how I would have taken a second offering then, but that bordered on sacrilege. It’s amazing to me that people can get upset about a guy in an elephant suit getting kicked in the crotch in a humorous video, but no one screamed at that lo-fi quip from me. If you ever been around a serious move of the Holy Spirit in a dramatic way—a deliverance, a real prophetic word, or had God convict you on the spot—there is a reverential awe that shatters cynicism and sarcasm in a nanosecond. It was a cheap attempt at humor. And not very smart. When people start laying sick folks on the sidewalk in hopes that my shadow will cross them, maybe then I can spare some humor about power.
I’m starting to ramble here so I better stop; I’ll get in more trouble. But I love wrestling contextually with challenging scriptures; it’s good for the soul.
Maybe this is the bottom line: money and spirituality is way more connected than we think. Err on the side of grace and generosity every time. If Jesus said it was better to enter into the Kingdom with one eye than hell with two, I’d suggest it’s better to enter with an empty wallet as well.