Gospel Disequilibrium

Posted: April 19, 2016 in Edification

What is the Gospel? I mean really if we stopped and thought about the answer we would give I would be venture guess that we would receive many different answers. Furthermore we would probably hear several different platitudes that sound good on the surface but never could anchor our souls.

So I ask again what is the Gospel?

The first answer that I believe I would hear is the cookie cutter answer. The Gospel is the truth that Jesus Christ died for my sins and because of His sacrifice I receive eternal life. This first answer is right but it is also wrong if isolated apart from the whole picture. I hear the beauty of an abstract supernatural miracle being deduced to a mere transaction between two consenting parties.

The second answer that I believe I would hear is the culturally relevant answer that it is about having a relationship with Jesus because He loves me. Once again, this answer is right but it is also wrong if isolated apart from the whole picture. In this specific answer we find the watering down our utter isolation from a holy God because of our continual patterns of sin that could not even be looked upon by a perfect Almighty God. The love of God is known fully in the comprehension of His Supreme Holiness.

The third answer that I believe I would hear is it is the choice to live my life for God by obeying his commandments in my life so that I would bear fruit for His Kingdom. And you guessed it, just like the previous two answers, this answer is right but also wrong if isolated apart from the whole picture. I believe that this answer creates an if/then pattern that Christ came to abolish. The ultimate point of the Gospel is that Christ obeyed what we were unable to obey in our flesh.

Great, so now you have told me all the things I believe about the Gospel are wrong and you are now declaring you have some new revelation as to what the Gospel is.

NO!

Nothing could be farther from the truth. I am merely asking that we as the body of Christ seek all the pieces of the Mosaic not just one part of it. The isolation of the tenants of the Gospel as found in the Scripture will result in spiritual disequilibrium which will only serve to confuse the present world more than they already are. Spiritual complacency and doctrinal division has arose as we have approached the Lord’s table as a buffet where we naively believe we can pick what course we want to eat and leave the rest for someone else. I am asking that we return back to the Scriptures to rediscover our Gospel perspective in perfect completion with that which was already revealed, purchased, and explained.

The Gospel is three parts.

Part one is this, “We all like sheep have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6), we knew God but we neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him (Romans 1:21), we knew God’s righteous decree yet we chose to do otherwise (Romans 1:32), and we were dead in our trespasses (Ephesians 2:1).

Part two is this, “At the right time Christ came into this world (Romans 5:6), when we were still God’s enemies Christ died for us (Romans 5:10), we were united with Christ in death (Romans 6:4), we died with Christ (Romans 6:8), the righteous requirement was met by Christ (Romans 8:4), and the payment was made in full. (Colossians 2:14)

Part three is this, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free (Galatians 5:1), you were called to be free from  the yoke of the law (Galatians 5: 13), you are to be led by the Spirit not the law (Galatians 5:18), you have been raised with Christ (Colossians 3:1), you are united with Christ forever (Philippians 2: 1) , in fact you have died to law so you could be joined to another (Romans 7:4), and you are and are becoming a new creation in Christ Jesus, the old is gone and the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

This is the whole Gospel and this is the Gospel that does not reduce God to a get out of jail free card, a buddy, and or a checklist of do this and do not do that statements. I fear that many are receiving parts of the Gospel throughout their week but are not receiving the WHOLE Gospel that the apostles portrayed in their letters, that Jesus purchased with His blood, and the church has died  protecting for centuries.

In the next couple of weeks I have resolved to go through each part showing the truth that can be found in them but also exposing the pitfalls that arise out of them. My objective is to bring us back into spiritual equilibrium so that we may engage the world, bear fruit, and cultivate spiritual unity in our world.

I invite you to journey with me as we seek to paint the full portrait of a marvelous, eternal, and radical life changing Gospel that we profess. Grace and peace.

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Ephesians 4:17-32, “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body, “In your anger do not sin”[d]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

As I was reflecting this morning on some of post that I saw circulating around on social media a thought came into my mind, Jesus DID NOT die for our Starbucks holiday cup! For some of you, you probably will close out of the blog at that sentence and for some, you will interpret that statement to vindicate a weak watered down theology that fears push back from the culture. But my prayer is that you will read this and shout out a hearty amen for the true testimony of the Gospel of Christ in its entirety.

Every year it appears like Christians in America charge up unnecessary hills, forget biblical doctrines, and scream persecutions as the culture around them changes. I look as a fellow believer and it seems that they die on a lot of hills rather than holding fast to the One who died on hill of Calvary. I mean, do we honestly think that Jesus cares if there is Christmas decorations on a cup from Starbucks? Do we really think that Jesus cares if people stop saying ‘Merry Christmas’? I mean, I for one, have not read anything in the Bible defending the holiday of Christmas or the commands to fight for what goes on our holiday cups as we enjoy the sweetness of God’s drink of choice, coffee.

Friends, I wish I was making this up and I wish that this was truly a satirical piece, yet sadly, it is not. Christians are actually choosing to die on the two hills that I mentioned even though in many areas of our own communities of faith we see unbiblical forms of worship, teachings, and relationships that we turn a blind eye towards. Please understand what I am saying as it is crucial to proper application of my exhortation. I am NOT stating that Christians should go along with every tide of the culture without standing rather they should search scriptures to discern if this is indeed an offense against a holy God. I am also NOT saying that our churches are at fault and are guilty of perpetual harm to our culture rather I am saying our time, resources, and voices might be better served elsewhere.

I say this with a little hint of tongue and cheek but seriously church, Jesus, died for our sins, not our holiday cups.

Jesus died for the pride that leads us astray, not for the phrase ‘Merry Christmas.’ Jesus, died for the lust we harbor within our eyes, not for our Chick-Fil-A sandwiches. Jesus died for the malice that we hold against the radical terrorist, not for our knick-knacks from Hobby Lobby. Jesus died for the addictions that we dare not share with anyone, not businesses to be closed on Sunday’s. And lastly, Jesus died to give us peace in the midst of suffering/tumultuous times, not for our religious freedoms that we have enjoyed in our country.

Beloved, we in America have been blessed to be free, to worship as we please, and to carry our message without fear of death all throughout our country. However, we must understand that man thought of the idea of religious liberties, NOT God. The freedom to worship without government infringement as the Founder’s intended was not a biblical promise decreed by a prophet or penned by an Apostle, rather it was authored by some passionate men that understand that government is a necessary evil therefore for the most amount of human protection they should be heavily restrained by the people.

My heart is for the Gospel and the Gospel tells us that we are strangers in a foreign land, that we are the minority in the midst of a lost majority, that we are the products of God’s graces not the efforts of our fellow countrymen’s hands, and lastly, that our eyes, our hearts, our minds, and our actions are to be in accordance with the full testimony of the Gospel WHETHER OR NOT the culture protects us. In fact, God calls us more often to be lights in the darkness, lights that guide NOT BLIND.

My prayer is that we as the Church would understand the testimony of the Gospel and then apply the promises of His word to the situations that we face in our daily lives. Jesus would much prefer we share a cup of coffee with a homeless person than us writing a Facebook status in outrage at the new holiday design of a beverage cup. Jesus would much prefer we comfort those who are afflicted than us standing at parades with a sign that saying ‘Keep CHRIST in Christmas.’ Jesus would much rather see His people proclaiming the Gospel to all people than watch His people get sidetracked with a defense of religious liberties.

I had a professor in college who taught an apologetics course tell our class one day, “The questions, the objections, and all the other points are typically smoke screens for a deeper heart issue that the individual harbors within themselves, enmity towards God.” Jesus did not die for our Starbucks cup and he did not die so we could have religious liberties in America. 

Christ died so we would not be at enmity with the Father any longer. He died so that we would have eternal peace with our Lord and Savior. He endured pain so that we would be healed from our sicknesses on this side or the next. He offered Himself as a prisoner to sin so that we would be released from our bondage that traps us. He triumphed so that we would be given the perseverance in the midst of our afflictions. He came so that we would proclaim his favor in the desert. And finally, He rose three days later so that we, being made in His image yet marred by our sins, would experience pleasures forevermore as we experience a never ending worship service in the midst of our holy Almighty God.

In Christ.

A Letter to ALL Women.

Posted: June 3, 2015 in Edification

First of all I am aware that I cannot fix past hurts but I feel the need to apologize for the way that some men have acted towards you without regard to the delicacy of your heart. I recognize that I am not able nor should I be in relationship with you all however I do recognize that I am in a position to show what it means to cherish a women’s heart. I admit that I have not always been perfect or blameless when it comes to relationships but I have experienced moments of remorse for the collateral damage that I may have caused to a women’s heart.

Second of all I wish to clarify that this is not going to be a bashing on men nor will it be a pity party for women. I am writing this letter with the hope that you would hear the truth that the Bible declares about the beauty of a women so that you would attract a man who would love you the way you are supposed to be loved. I desire that through my explaining that you would hear the sweet affirmations, the tender truth’s, and empowering message of godly beauty that is found through a relationship with Christ first and a man second. 

Beloved, not all men are slobs, pigs, abusers, or dogs.

Sister, not all men are selfish, self-seeking, or untrustworthy.

Friend, not all men are going to hurt you, deceive you, or manipulate you.

There are men out there who will cherish your heart, uphold your purity, and honor your courage but it might not look like the fairy tales do. Men are fallen and sinful just as much as women are therefore perfection will not be realized in a relationship. Grace is to be extended and discernment is to be practiced for those two are what God has called each one of us to exercise when it comes to relationships.

Over the past three weeks I cannot tell you how many conversations, social media posts, or women in my life have been in the middle of a struggle for their worth, identity, and purity.

I feel like this is a message that God desires I would share so that our eyes would be opened, hearts would be healed, and minds would be changed. Here it goes…

Dear Women of ALL ages:

No matter the decade or time culture always attempts to define one standard of beauty that usually deals specifically with outward appearance. I mean I read a Seventeen magazine for the first time and I cannot tell you how many pages had subliminal messages about beauty. I have found that women are either obsessed with physical beauty or deceived in their spiritual beauty. I find more extreme examples rather than balanced examples of godly beauty.

In 1 Peter 3:3-4 Peter writes,   “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 

So does that mean Christ following women have to look frumpy? Heck no, I mean look at this beauty…

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Does that mean women are not to do their hair up, wear make up, or even wear a new dress? No.

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Peter is trying to make a point to these women who were defining their beauty with ONLY their appearance. The women that were being admonished were women who were neglecting their inward beauty. These women had dark hearts despite their ornate appearances. Peter was writing, much like I am today, to remind the women of the world that beauty is rooted in the purity of heart, the kindness of spirit, and the strength of a women’s obedience towards God. Peter saw women being deceived and tricked into believing that they were only beautiful when they were “jacked up.”

Women of the world you are beautiful even if that guy does not talk to you.

You are beautiful even if you have never been asked on a date.

Women of the world you are more beautiful than the sunrise if your heart is pure.

Beloved your beauty is not dependent on your looks, your beauty is dependent on your willingness to obey God, to worship Him, and to reflect him to a world desperate for a message of unconditional love.

For the women that knows her worth, lives out her worth, and places her heart in the hands of God is a force to be reckoned with, a mighty tool in the hands of God, and a breath of fresh air to the world that stinks with artificial beauty.

The second point that I desire for women of the world to remember is how a man is supposed to treat her, appreciate her, and partner with her in life. I certainly have fallen and do not come from a place of perfection in this area however I succeed in this call much more than I fail. Beloved, if a man is not capable of opening their heart to God than they are not capable of holding the key to yours. 

In Ephesians 5:27 Paul writes, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” While this passage is primarily addressing marriages and the roles of husband/wife I believe a principle can be pulled out for even dating relationships.

What does the love of Christ look like? Selflessness, not selfishness. Sacrifice, not manipulation. Unconditional love, not temporary love. Humility, not tyrannic commands. 

How did Christ love? He loved without relenting. He pursued in gentleness. He spoke truth to those whose lives were not honoring God. He did everything in His power to invite, speak, and encourage a person to walk with God. 

I have heard conversations where women have said, “Where are all THOSE men at? I mean all THOSE men must be married!” The love of a man who is first in love with Christ is the love of a man who will do everything to uphold your purity. The man who loves you like Christ is the man who leads you by showing you not attempting to control you. The man who is worthy to hold the key to your heart is the one who has allowed Christ to hold the key to his heart.

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Beloved, watch how a man interacts with other women and how he speaks with his guy friends for in that alone will you find out the type of man he truly is. However an important truth that is hard to swallow must be stated, the type of man you attract often reflects the type of heart you have dwelling within. Broken people are attracted to broken people.

Friends, there are men out there who will fulfill these verses but those men will only pursue you if you are fulfilling the first verse stated about beauty. The men who will love you well are most likely not the ones grinding at clubs, smoking joints at parties, or attending all the frat events on campus.

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And thirdly, the man who is worthy to hold your heart is not necessarily the one who is the loudest guy at church, the richest guy you know, the most educated man you have met, or the greatest athlete you have seen play. A man worthy of holding your heart is someone who lives out the Gospel through his sacrificial love, peaceful spirit, strong determination, and continual dedication to encouraging you throughout life’s valleys.  

Remember, we attract the type of person we are therefore if you as a woman are not doing those things than there is a good chance that your heart will be placed in the hands of those who will inflict deep wounds.

My prayer is that the women of the world would begin pursing God as much as they desire to purse Ryan Gosling.

My hope is that the beloved daughters of God would see that men can be the greatest gift in their lives not someone who is trying to keep them down.

And my desire is that through my short time on this earth I would love my future wife well by encouraging her, partnering with her, adventuring with her, and most all obeying the will of God when it comes to my life as well as our life together. Know your worth.

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Sincerely, a brother in Christ who cares for your heart.

Really Jesus? I have to forgive that person? I have to reach out to them? I mean I did not do anything wrong why do I have to apologize? Really Lord?

This past month these have been the questions that I have asked in my times with the Lord and quite frankly I have not  liked the answer He has given me.

I have come up with every excuse I could to justify that what He was saying could not possibly be correct. But much to my demise every message, every song, every conversation, and every devotion time that I had throughout the past month centered around the command of forgiveness. 

This past month our church went through the book of Philemon and every message point that stuck to me like glue was the idea of forgiving offenses committed against you for the sake of peaceful reconciliation of broken hearts, relationships, and cultures.

And this morning God did not relent as the pastor’s message centered around fixing our eyes on Jesus so that we would respond to situations with forgiveness not resentments. The passage was Acts 7 where Stephen was being stoned and his response was to ask the Lord to forgive the people throwing the stones because they did not just what they were doing. I thought well I am not being stoned so if Stephen responded with forgiveness than I do not really have an excuse not to do the same.

God said, “Forgiveness is not about being right. Fixing your eyes on Me means that even if you are not in the wrong your response should be one of choosing not to hold the offense in your heart or against the offender. In simple words, if you wish to live as I have lived you must follow my example. I was innocent in the the condemnation I received for I had committed no offenses but I chose to release the power that I was entitled to because I was right for the sake of the reconciliation that would occur for generations to come.” 

Well Jesus how can I tell that you are actually speaking? I mean I could be crazy or hearing you wrong. I have not received any verses specifically on this subject.

BAM!  

Colossians 3:12-14, Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Ephesians 4:31-32, Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Matthew 18:21-22, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Matthew 5:23-24, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

Luke 6:37, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

And finally, Jesus as the ultimate model, Luke 23:33-34, “When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said,“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”a]”>[a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”

C’mon Jesus! Did you seriously mean this? I mean you cannot possibly be aware of the situation that I am in. I mean you could do it but I cannot. Really Jesus?!

This afternoon I realized that I was not going to escape the commands of God and that I better fix my eyes on Him in this situation because my point of view was not going to prevail nor was my argument going to persuade Jesus to come to my side. I realized Jesus was dedicated to the mission of bringing every thought, word, and relationship under His dominion and authority for the sake of making himself known to each individual. Jesus was not on my side, in fact, he was not on anyone’s side! 

I came home and I wrote the letter. I mailed the letter. And now I wait for the response.

I reached out. I apologized. I asked for forgiveness for the offenses I committed.

And most importantly, I wrote it out of a place of abiding with the Lord.

My point in writing this is this, friends, our world is hurting and our culture is in need of a radical obedience that at times may remove us from our comfort zone.

Brothers and sisters learn from me, the commands of God will bend my will NOT bend God’s will.

Beloved, forgiveness and reconciliation is the primary mission of Christ through us in this world.

And Church, may we remember the message we receive in the Gospel when we are reminded that when we were powerless, when we were dead, and when we had fallen short of the glory of God, CHRIST TOOK ON FLESH, BORE THE SINS OF THE WORLD, TOOK ON DEATH, ROSE TO LIFE, AND WILL ONE DAY COME AGAIN. 

So, I forgive you and I seek reconciliation.

I pray that through the broken pieces that make up my life you may see the love of Christ for He loves you, has formed you, made you, he can redeem you, heal can heal you, he will not fail you, he will not hurt you, he will not leave you, and most importantly he is for you.

After combing through one hundred pages of the transcript of the Supreme Court case I was struck with the running theme that whether it was the defense, prosecutor, or the Justices no one could agree on what definition of marriage fundamentally is.

Certain aspects of marriage was defined and defended however the basic definition of marriage was never espoused, made clear, or stated. As I reflected upon the statements and comments of all that were involved my heart was burdened with the realization that we, the church, have not modeled, explained, or lived the true definition of marriage. We in the church have not been a testimony to a world searching for truth nor have we explained with our actions just what it means to be in a covenant of marriage.

Procreation, contractual agreement, legal status, or loving commitment were defined as the basis for marriage in front of the court yesterday. While all of those do indeed play a role in one way in marriage the fact that we have neglected to obey the commands of God has ushered in the crisis of marriage in the Western world. We in the church would be wise to allow the Scriptural clarity of the word guide our marriages for that is how we can enter the dialogue of marriage in our society yet again. 

First off I must provide a correction of stats. The common belief that over half of marriages end in divorce and the rate being the same for church going Christians is false. The latest study, conducted by Harvard University concluded that the number is actually more around 30% total and about 15% for church going Christians. Not bad right? Wrong, in Gods Word the numbers should be even lower as he only provides two reasons for divorce. Fifteen percent is too high for God’s bride.

Marriage was instituted by God not the government, (Genesis 2) marriage was a covenant rooted in the picture of Christ (Ephesians 5), and marriage is between a man and a woman. (Matthew 19) That is important to the dialogue as that is where ALL of history, Christian or not, deduced its definition of marriage. As argued by the Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who stated about the millenia of support on the traditional view as opposed to eight years of support on the “new” view.

As the church we must hold to these above all other commands when it comes to our relationships because our marriages are meant to reflect the glory of Christ. Our relationships are primarily for the benefit of finding another person who helps us conform to the image of God.

As RC Sproul states, “Marriage is primarily concerned with our conforming to God’s holiness not our own happiness.” Pleasure is a large part of marriage but at the root our marriage is meant to be satisfaction in the riches of Christ. 

Secondly, divorce. We in the church do not like talking about divorce because it is an emotional subject. In fact, I am beginning to see how the church in our confused world is shying away from emotional subjects for fear of stepping on someones toes. I appeal to the testimony of Christ on this earth who shows us that those are exactly the kinds of topics we are too engage in a Gospel centered way.

The grounds for divorce, if plainly read and practicing exegesis (drawing from the text), are marital unfaithfulness and death.

In other words, if a spouse cheats or violates the core of their partner than God calls his children to remove themselves knowing he is supportive.

God’s individual love for his children takes precedence in abusive/unfaithful situations.

And the second reason, death. I do not need to explain this.

Matthew 19:1-7 is the primary text for this support but for the sake of length I will not spend time citing that passage, meditate on it yourself.

Thirdly, we have fallen under a belief that if we are unhappy, if we are fighting, if our feelings fade, or if we just do not want the responsibility anymore than we can leave and God will be alright with it. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

This is where the crux of my argument lies, if our marriages are based on the standards of the world than we will fail to be a model of the sanctity of the God ordained institution thus the natural outcome would be what we see now. Church, we would be wise to focus on our inward problems when it comes to the covenant of marriage for in that we can model what a marriage truly is to the outside world.

In God’s world and in His presence the divorce rate for Christians should be 0 percent but God in his infinite knowledge knew that mankind would sin therefore he provided us clear boundaries for divorce.

The key is the more we grow in our relationship in Christ, the more we press into the Spirit of God, the more we live into our new identity individually the more our marital relationships will reflect the glory of God and the truth of the definition of marriage.

And one last thing church, we would be wise to stop feeding the lie that all of us are meant to be married and begin seeing those who are single as obedient children of God. At times our unhealthy emphasis on marriage contributes to the divorce rate because people enter the covenant because they believe that is Christian, not the case.

Being single is a choice just like marriage is a choice.

My prayer is that as one body united by one Spirit that whether it be our marital relationships or our friendships that we model what it means, why it works, and finally the infinite wisdom of an Almighty God.

God desires to change the world through one relationship at a time.

Church, our world is seeking a standard, one hundred pages of Supreme Court jargon made that clear.

We are called to be that voice. We are called to be that light. We are called to reflect Christ.

This morning I was asked the question, “Have you given me everything? Is there something that you have held back?” Upon first thought I said, YES, I have given you everything but upon careful reflection I realized NO I have not given everything.

This led me to think of the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 where they lie about giving all that they had. I think the early church and the church today has greatly misunderstood the reason Luke records this account.

For centuries we have read this passage and thought, WOW, that was a harsh response by a vindictive God. We have focused so much on the response of God that we have missed what was actually being conveyed to the readers. We have missed that this pattern of withholding has become part of our daily lives. In this account certain words are necessary to understand just what we as the Church are to take away from Acts 5.

Luke writes,

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s [a]full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not [b]under your control? Why is it that you have [c]conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.”

The first thing we find out about this couple is that they had sold their property with the intention of following in the footsteps of church members who were sharing their possessions with each other (Acts 2). Luke tells us from the beginning that they sold the property but they kept some of the price for themselves. In other words the couple sold the property in order to appear holy on the outside but kept some for themselves showing their true sickness that was within. The couple was allowed to keep for themselves as this offering was not mandated nor required for holiness, another misunderstanding that the Church has not explained. 

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We are told that the couple had full knowledge of this choice before they even brought the money and placed it at the feet of the Apostles. Peter did not demand for this nor did he mandate that the church members should do this but the people rather sold their property as an offering to God. Ananias and Sapphira brought an offering (much like Cain) that was not everything they had. They approached the throne of the Most High God relying upon what it looked like rather than what it actually was. 

Peter then responds by asking them why they had kept some of the price back. Confronted with their outward hypocrisy the couple, like most of us, attempt to cover it up rather than repent out of sincerity for their wrongdoings. Peter makes sure that they understand that their offense had nothing to do with the Apostles but was an actual act of conscience sin against the Almighty God. Peter calls them out not to condemn them but to give them the opportunity to repent for their sinful conception.

Peter says to the couple that before they sold the property it was indeed theirs by legal right and after they sold the property it was still their property. Peter is saying that this was not a mandated offering so if you wanted to hold back you could and that would not have affected your position in Christ however the couple bought the lie that their outward offering was the source of their righteousness.

Are you ready? Here is the kicker. The couple “conceived” this plan according to Luke. Legally, the couple committed a pre-meditated act that was conceived before the actual offense was committed. In our legal system this crime has a more severe punishment and the same was true in this account. The couple conceived before they brought the offering that they would hold some of it back for themselves. The crime was committed with mutual consent and his wife was an accessory to a pre-meditated offense.

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Beloved, the point of this account is not to focus upon how God responded but to see how we fall victim in our everyday lives to the same pattern as Ananias and Sapphira. We too hold things back, we too attempt to keep things from God, we too can become fixated on our outward display of righteousness rather than the inward righteousness given to us by Christ.

This morning brothers and sisters I was convicted because I walked around as if I had given all of my “property” but I most certainly had not.

May we learn from this account that when we bring an offering to Christ, whatever it may be, that we are called to give it all for it is all Christ’s anyways.

God acting in the way he did through Peter was not intended to frighten us it was intended to warn us. God desires his children to come to a place of acceptance that if they freely give they shall freely receive.  

It is time we approach his altar and allow his Spirit to show us the areas that we have not given all of ourselves to Christ.

I know I am today.

Join me at the altar of offering as Christ meets us in the most intimate of ways.

-J

I strongly dislike being out of control.

In fact, if I am honest it is the most terrifying thing that I could imagine.

The thought of being vulnerable, transparent, and actually expressing my needs is frightening to me. When I close my eyes and envision myself not having control of the direction, the course, and the controls of the metaphorical “boat of life” my heart sinks.

However, I have been on a journey in this season of life where I am being challenged to express my emotions and embrace the paradoxical truth that to be in control means recognizing how life is out of my control. 

As I was driving this morning I noticed a tree on the front lawn of someones house.

This tree was perfectly, I mean perfectly cut.

It appeared as if the landscaper measured the angles of each cut to produce the most perfect tree there could be by someones standards.

I HATED IT!

There was nothing appealing, nothing freeing, and nothing invigorating about the perfectly sculpted tree. That led me to think how my desire to control is a desire to present myself in the light of perfection. I want to skip the life part of conforming to the image of God so that I would experience perfection. I am seeing how even Christ did not present himself in the “perfect” way but rather he presented who he truly is/was to a world hungry to be known.

In life we all fixate on presenting the best foot forward but if we are honest that never actually presents who we truly are.

As a people, nation, and world we are so consumed with other people’s opinions that the true, vulnerable self never surfaces.

Beloved, God has carefully crafted each person in this world to fit the beautiful mosaic of the world. Sadly, we have allowed life’s problems, people’s opinions, family expectations, and anything else you can think pollute our sense of identity. We have bought the lie that too be perfect is to look like that tree I drove by in the morning.

After seeing that tree I noticed a row of wild/free trees. These caught my eye, these awoke my soul, and I could hear these beautifully free trees calling my name. The tree that called me had branches going all different directions, leaves of different colors, and different shades of bark. Now do not get me wrong, I am not advocating that the ideal Christian should be wild and free in the sense of the world but the ideal Christian should embrace their vulnerability through walking a life of intentional transparency resulting in a communion with Christ that exudes authenticity. 

My heart was created to be known. My hands were crafted to show where I have been. Beloved, the more we bury that desire or attempt to fill it with good but temporal treasures the more we will seclude ourselves from the most freeing of experiences; being known! 

It is scary, but it is necessary. It is hard, but it is empowering. It is spine-tingling, but it is freeing.

Brothers and sisters, I know this in my head and there are numerous Scriptures that could be referenced but right now I think what matters the most is us really meditating on the statement, “In my vulnerability with God I begin to be truly known.” Grace and peace

-J