Thursday, 2 July 2015

What Happened Next #8 "Don't Solicit Celebrity" Acts 5:1-11

What Happened Next #8 “Don't Solicit Celebrity” Acts 5:1-11

Go walks alongside us
Ready to hear
Ready to speak
Ready to act
He sets us free
Use your freedom wisely.

Who are your Spiritual Heroes? Who have you seen live? Whose books do you read? Who do you search for online? Whose TV channel is on your favourites list. Who do you try to sit by in church?
Some of mine: John Wimber, David Watson, Rob Bell, Bill Vanstone, CS Lewis. And I'd like to add Jurgen Molttmann, Hans Kung, Kart Bart, because that will make me look less lightweight. Because, like it or not, we do care what we look like to others. It's good to be attractive.

Living in the power and presence of the Spirit is very attractive: that first Pentecost outpouring of people praising God in “my own language” attracted thousands to faith. These first miracles of the disciples and the extravagant generosity of the newborn church attracted many to be “added to their number”. Its great for evangelism, but is there a danger that we want to be "attractive" rather than obedient?

To be inspired by a good example – witnessing, praying, serving, healing, giving – is brilliant. We all have people whom we have tried to emulate. Above all we try to emulate Jesus: to “be Christ to others”. Its not hubris. It's a laudable if not completely achievable aim. But remember that Jesus is not a celebrity. His acts of service; His teachings; His miracles; His death and resurrection are not done to boost His popularity (which is the goal of celebrity, isn't it?). They are done to save, to heal, creation.

In the early church this danger of celebrity is opposed in a very dramatic fashion. This couple are attracted to the example of extravagant generosity that they see around them They see how God is praised, what goodwill is earned among the people, how those acts of generosity stand out – and they want that acclamation too. They too go and sell some valuable property. They too want to lay this at the apostles feet. So what's the problem?
Q's: How do we know that our urges are from the Holy Spirit?
Are our acts of service done for God or for our own sense of worth?
Do we really feel that God is walking alongside us all the time?
Will I die if I get it wrong?!!!

1. Will this action help in the establishment of God's rule? Is it like Jesus? LJPPKGFGS?
  1. Is this mostly for God or for my own reputation?
  2. Remembering that the Holy Spirit is right alongside me, am I still comfortable with it?
The problem with Ananias and Saphira is not what they decided to give. It was their land. When they sold it it was their money. They could give as much or a little as they wanted to. But it seems that they proclaimed themselves as more “extravagantly generous” than they were. They wanted the acclaim for themselves rather than for their Lord. Generosity makes you feel good about yourself, yes. Nothing wrong with that. But it can't be the reason. Have you ever been the recipient of a favour when the helper tells you in so much detail how costly and sacrificial they are being that in the end you'd rather they hadn't bothered. The “working my fingers to the bone” approach?

But much more importantly they were pretending. They were pretending to be “in the Spirit”. They didn't really think that God was walking alongside them, knowing the deepest longing of their hearts, wanting to bless them in every way, wanting to make them whole in his love. They thought that the Spirit realm was somehow distinct from the everyday. It is not. Incarnation means God as a human being. Immanuel means “God with us”. Pentecost means the Holy Spirit of God poured into our hearts here and now, here to stay. So remember;

Go walks alongside you
Ready to hear
Ready to speak
Ready to act
He sets you free

Use your freedom wisely.

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