Summary: In Acts chapter 5 we meet a Church that is suddenly in the grip of fear. •But this is not a fear provoked by being strapped to a tower 254 feet high.. •It is not fear brought about by some natural phenomenon like a hurricane or earthquake. •It is not
“The Price of Impurity”
The tragic story of Ananias and Sapphira
Good morning. It’s good to be back with you.
While I was gone we as a family took a week’s vacation and one of the things we did was took the kids to Knott’s Berry Farm.
•It’s a whole different experience going to an amusement park than it was years ago. When we were younger and had no kids, we would head straight for the roller coaster and fast action rides.
•Now we spend most of the day in the kiddie ride section, watching children ride. It’s fun, but its a different kind of fun, a parental kind of fun. (We joke that Disneyland is no place to take children, they hold you back and slow you down).
•But as we were moving through the park, we were looking at some of the roller coasters and things that we weren’t going on. And I kept noticing this one ride. It was called the Supreme Scream. It is a giant tower that goes up 254 feet, around this cage 12 people are strapped, dangling in midair. It takes you up 30 stories, then it just drops you, in a freefall, over 50 miles an hour. The ride takes a total of three seconds.
•Now I’m one of these idiots who likes a challenge.
•Just before we left we let the kids each choose one ride each, their favorite and we returned to it. And then we were about to leave and my wife caught me looking at it and she said, “What? You want to ride that thing?” Go ahead.
•All of the other adults still had their sanity, so I went alone.
I got strapped in and I have to tell you, I wasn’t really ready for the feeling of being propelled up the outside of a building, just hanging there. As I’m going up I’m thinking, “This was a mistake.”
My mind was telling me, “I’m perfectly safe, a thousand people a day ride this.” My heart was screaming “You are going to die.” There is a sense of sheer terror.
(Of course when my wife asked “how was it?” I replied “no big deal – to prove I was a man”)
•But there was truly a moment of sheer terror.
Ever had that feeling? Sheer terror. The recognition that your life could be over in a minute.
In Acts chapter 5 we meet a Church that is suddenly in the grip of fear.
•But this is not a fear provoked by being strapped to a tower 254 feet high..
•It is not fear brought about by some natural phenomenon like a hurricane or earthquake.
•It is not even provoked by persecution, which as we have seen only made the Church stronger and bolder.
In fact, it is actually a good fear; a healthy fear. Because it is fear provoked by an encounter with the awesome power of the living God.
And it serves as a reality check for Church.
If you have your Bibles turn with me to Acts 5. Read 5:1-11.
Now this is really an amazing story. A shocking story. This is not the kind of thing that happens every day. I don’t think we really get the full impact unless we contextualize it; bring it into our own contemporary setting.
So let me do that for you.
Suppose we launched a building campaign. We’re actually doing that now, with the remodel of some of our buildings.
•And I had a car that I sold for $5,000. And we gave $4,000 to the building program for this. But we had to get the registration paid on a new car, so we kept $1,000. And I come in and present a check for $4,000 to the building fund committee.
•They are thrilled. So one of our pastor’s, lets say Curt, “we really want to interview you before the congregation as a model for giving.”
•I say humbly, “OK.” So the next Sunday he is interviewing me and they say, “So you sold the car and gave it all to the building fund. And I say, “Well, yeah…”
•At that moment I suddenly feel a tightening in my throat, and I drop over dead.
•So they call my wife up here and ask, “So you sold the car and gave it all to the building fund, is that right?” She says, “Yes,” and she drops over dead.
•As they are dragging the bodies out, the Pastor looks out at the audience, “O.K. Who else wants to make a pledge this morning?”
What kind of impact do you think that would have on the church?
•I can guarantee the next week there would be a lot fewer people here.
•But I can also guarantee they would be a lot more committed.