Summary: Everyone of us are examples to non-Christians. Some are good examples and some are bad examples. Ananias & Sapphira were included in the Bible because of their bad example; Paul shows us what a good example, a man of integrity, looks like!
If you want to have the kind of a church Like the kind of a church you like,
You needn’t slip your clothes in a grip, And start on a long, long hike.
You’ll only find what you left behind, For there’s nothing that’s really new.
It’s a knock at yourself when you knock your church –
For the it isn’t your church – it’s YOU!
Real Churches are made, not by people afraid Lest someone else gets ahead.
When everyone works and nobody shirks, you can raise a church from the dead!
And if when you make your personal stake, Your neighbor can make one too.
Your church will be what you want it to be,
For it isn’t your Church – it’s you!
We’ve been asking ourselves the question “what is the church supposed to look like?” We’ve talked about the church being a caring community, how we need to reach out to the community through difficult times. That we need to move out of our comfort zones to bring people to Christ. It’s a place where everyone has to be involved and be part of God’s team! If we are the church we really long to be we will share the gospel of Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, with those who so desperately need to hear it.
Today’s message recognizes that there is a world of people watching us, and we need to be models of integrity. It recognizes that we are all examples to the world – some of us are good examples and some of us are bad examples; but we all have great influence on others, either for or against Christ! In 1 Corinthians.11:1, Paul tells the Corinthians: “You should follow my example, just as I follow Christ’s.” That is a powerful statement of integrity, if you ask me! Integrity is defined: “A being complete; wholeness. An unimpaired condition; soundness. Uprightness, honesty and sincerity.”
Let me read to you 2 different passages from the Book of Acts, and you tell me there is a message that needs to be proclaimed here. OK?
Ananias and Sapphira got put into the Book because they lied to God, because they lacked integrity. Now why do you think God would even tell us about this couple if it weren’t as an example for us? Maybe God knew what kind of people He would be dealing with in 21st Century America. Talk about lack of integrity! Listen to this:
Documented in a book by James Patterson and Peter Kim, The Day America Told the Truth, (1991), Americans were asked: “What are you willing to do for $10,000,000?” Two-thirds of Americans polled would agree to at least one, some to several of the following:
§ Would abandon their entire family (25%) Would abandon their church (25%)
§ Would become prostitutes for a week or more (23%)
§ Would give up their American citizenships (16%) Would leave their spouses (16%)
§ Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free (10%)
§ Would kill a stranger (7%) Would put their children up for adoption (3%)
Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor about 100 years after Paul’s ministry, and philosopher, identified the following traits of a successful person: 1) Consciousness of an honest purpose in life. 2) A just estimate of himself and everyone else. 3) Frequent self-examinations. 4) Steady obedience to what he knows to be right. 5) Indifference to what others may think or say.
Charles Swindoll, in Growing Deep in the Christian Life, tells about a man who bought fried chicken dinners for himself and his date late one afternoon. The attendant at the fast food outlet, however, inadvertently gave him the proceeds from the day’s business--a bucket of money (much of it cash) instead of fried chicken. Swindoll writes:
"After driving to their picnic site, the two of them sat down to enjoy some chicken. They discovered a whole lot more than chicken--over $800! But he was unusual. He quickly put the money back in the bag. They got back into the car and drove all the way back. By then, the manager was frantic.
"Mr. Clean got out, walked in, and became an instant hero. ’I want you to know I came by to get a couple of chicken dinners and wound up with all this money here.’
"Well, the manager was thrilled to death. He said, ’Let me call the newspaper. I’m gonna have your picture put in the local paper. You’re one of the most honest men I’ve ever heard of.’
"To which the man quickly responded, ’Oh, no! No, no, don’t do that!’ Then he leaned closer and whispered, ’You see, the woman I’m with--she’s, uh, somebody else’s wife.’ One can be honest and still not have integrity. When we say that we are modeling integrity, there is a wholeness to it! It is not just one aspect of life – but through and through – this one is a man of integrity!