Do you go to church? Yes. Do you take a program? Of course, I’m handed one when I walk in. Do you enjoy the air conditioning? Thank God for air conditioning! Do you ever go to the bathroom? What kind of question is that? First you accuse me of robbing God and now you want to know if I have bowel movements. This is getting weird.
Do you drink the coffee the church serves? These questions don’t end do they? If I answer this last question will you stop? Just one more question…. Do you put anything in the offering plate? Sometimes… occasionally, define what you mean by putting something in the offering plate…
Ananias and Sapphira robbed God. They robbed God while they simultaneously gave God their money. That’s odd. Did they owe God anything? No. God asked nothing of them. They freely offered it. They were not sent a bill, were not compelled, were not even asked to give. But they sold a piece of land they owned, kept back some of the money, and gave the rest to the disciples. So it is about money because they lied about how much they sold the land for.
It’s not about the money. I don’t get it. First you talk about robbing God, then programs, air conditioning, toilets and coffee. I know it’s about the money. It’s always about the money.
God has all the money he needs. It’s not about the money. It’s about something else.
When Ananias and Sapphira gave, it was right after another man sold his property and gave the proceeds. A man named Joseph sold a field he owned and gave the disciples all the money. He was nicknamed the Son of Encouragement. But when Anny and Sapphy sold their land, they withheld some of the money before giving the disciples the rest. They claimed it was all the money they made off their property but they lied. The result of their misrepresentation was death. But they weren’t punished over money.
This story happens early in the Book of Acts when the Christian community was being developed. New believers were gathering together and living together in community. People benefited from the donations of others. In fact, when some women weren’t getting their fair share of food, the disciples created the deacons to make sure they were included in the daily distribution of food. Being in that community had its benefits. Giving to that system brought honor to God because it demonstrated how he cared for his people.
When Ananias and Sapphira lied about what they gave, it wasn’t about the money. It was about taking advantage of a system designed to honor God and benefit others. But they manipulated that system to make themselves look good. They stole honor for themselves by undercutting God. They coveted all the benefits to the point of stealing them.
When you go to a church, whether you are a member or a regular visitor, you benefit from the community of God. The church pays for the programs handed out, the staff to prepare them, the custodian to clean up after you, the water bill, the electricity bill, the coffee you drink after service. You hear a message, sing songs, maybe even have a prayer said on your behalf. When you walk into that building you benefit from that environment. Did you think all that stuff was free?
Sometimes people say,I don’t need to give, I volunteer. You need to give. God requires it. Volunteering doesn’t pay the gas bill.
I don’t like the pastor, I will give to the youth fund. If you don’t like the pastor, talk to him/her. Don’t threaten their livelihood. They make their house payment, feed their children, and pay their bills with their income.
I disagree with the direction the church is going in. But you don’t disagree with showing up and benefiting from what the church does offer. If you don’t like the direction the church is going in, then talk to the pastor or go to another church.
Go to another church? That’s awfully mean. You’re a mean pastor.No I’m not. I’m the Mad Pastor. Don’t confuse mad with mean. And don’t confuse the purpose of community in the church. The community of a church is to honor God, not to take advantage of it for our own benefit.
We would not expect the right to go to a restaurant and eat the food without paying. A business’ bathrooms are often reserved for customers. Because customers help pay the water bill and the unlucky kid who has to clean it up after you. Why should we expect the right to go into a church, enjoy the air conditioning, drink the coffee, and listen to the music, then complain about what we don’t like all while letting the plate pass by us?
Ananias and Sapphira took advantage of God. It was never about the money. What is it about for you?
The story of Ananias and Sapphira can be read here