Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? . . . You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. . . . Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. ACTS 5:1-6
What a neuron-bending story!
Can you imagine if that happened today in First Community 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 billion search hits by midnight. And a gazillion people would like it on Tiktok.
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. What the heck volunteer role was that?—the Deacons of Doom? Elders of Expiration? Or just a really different 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 they 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 time and culture 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.
There are so many facets to this story. But Big Question is: why does that apparently not happen today? Was it simply unique to that context and time? And how does grace enter into that equation? Or was that an initial necessity in the launch of this persecuted fledgling movement? Perhaps it was critically important 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.
If I was still pastoring, I probably would have taken a second offering, but that borders on blasphemy…and then they probably would have dragged me out feet first. Deservedly so.
Maybe this is the bottom line: money and spirituality are more deeply connected than we can imagine. 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 Hades with two, I’d suggest it’s better to enter with an empty wallet as well.
But it begs the question: if money and spirituality are inextricably linked, how are we discipling our people to think about it in healthy ways…in ways that reflect the Kingdom and heart of God?
Dave Workman | The Elemental Group
The Elemental Churches Inventory is a revolutionary web-based assessment system that combines individual and team learning through online tools and videos with sage coaching. It not only gives a focused snapshot of where you are, but provides a comprehensive report with recommended action steps that can be turned into your strategic plan toward effectiveness and health!