Summary: Sin short-circuits the work of the Spirit in your life, but the ripple effect of sin also short-circuits the work of the Holy Spirit in the church.
Video Clip: The ripple effect...the expanding series of effects or consequences that are the result of a single event or action. We’ve all done it. You’ve taken a stone and you’ve thrown it into a pond, and you see the concentric circles that are rippling outward from the center where you threw the stone. That’s not the only effect that throw might have had. It’s very possible that the sound of it going in may have scared a duck that was on the pond or the weight of it going down through the water, disturbed fish that were swimming there.
You are tied to all of that. You’re tied to the stone. You’re tied to the water. You’re tied to the ducks, and you’re tied to the fish by the ripples. You have caused change through a single and simple act. That can be change for good, or that can be change for bad. Sometimes our actions create unintended consequences through the ripples, the rogue ripples that go out from the center.
In today’s story from Acts, chapter 5, the brand new church is like the pond in that it’s refreshed and energized by the Holy Spirit. It contains the delicately balanced spiritual ecosystem with all the nutrients to give life to a dying world. But in Acts, chapter 5, in the very first verse, the rogue wave is introduced. A man named Ananias throws a stone into the pond and the ripples that go out from it threaten the delicate balance of that very fist church, and in some ways threatened us clear centuries later. So what do you do to stop the ripple effect? The truth is you can’t unless you’re God and you created the pond.
Hey, have you ever read a story from the Bible and after you read it you thought, Boy, that’s extreme? Maybe it was the way that God judged it or dealt with it, and you said, "What’s up with that?" Have you ever read one of those? Said, "Man, that’s incredible." Maybe an entire city is wiped out, or in the case of today, Ananias and Sapphira, if you’ve read ahead...it’s kind of an extreme judgment. Well, let me give you a tip on understanding some of those things. I think that if you keep the ripple effect in mind, it will help you to some degree to understand how God deals with some things.
For instance, the ripple effect...I was reading an article this week in a newspaper or maybe it was on the Internet, and the headline said this, "Wifeless Future for China’s Men." It went on and it told the story, and it said that by the year 2020 as many as 30 million men of marriageable age in China will not find a spouse. They said there are kindergarten classes that are way overbalanced male to female. In fact, they gave the example of one that had 38 boys and just 8 girls. What’s up with that? Why is it that way?
Well if you trace it back, it goes back to a decision that China made in the 1970s to limit population growth. It felt like the population was growing way too fast. So they said to every family, "You can only have one child, and it will limit the growth of the population." It has, to some degree, but there have been ripple effects, in fact, unintended consequences they probably didn’t plan on or didn’t know.
One of those was that in their culture often the welfare system is the family. If you have kids, the kids take care of the parents...what have you. If families were pregnant with a girl, they knew she was far less likely to take care of them or have the earning capacity, at least in that culture, to take care of them, so the abortion rate went way up. They were aborting baby girls and keeping baby boys. Now the delicate system of biology has been tampered with which leaves an unintended consequence. It’s a ripple effect.
In the Bible, you see ripple effects. Well, in our lives every decision we make has a ripple effect. Often times in the Bible you see people making decisions to follow God, not follow God, to do various things. At times, God lets it go. At other times, when it threatens the delicate balance of the story of God, and the story of the people of God throughout the Bible, you’ll see an ending to a ripple effect quickly, which you won’t understand and I don’t understand often times because I don’t understand all of the consequences even as China probably didn’t when they made the decision. But God does, so kind of keep that in mind.
All right, here’s what I want to do. I’m loving the study of Acts, and I hope you do. I do these because I like them, and I’m hoping you’re coming along for the trip. We’re studying Acts and we’re studying the Spirit-filled church. It’s been kind of exciting. Jesus promised the church, in Acts, chapter 1, that if He went away, and that He was going away, that He would send the Comforter, the promised Holy Spirit, the Gift.