As the community of believers continues to grow, things get messy. Church was never meant to be a perfect group of perfect people; church and community are messy because people are messy.
They Had Everything in Common
32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Ananias and Sapphira
5 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.
7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.
Is there a verse or passage that stands out to you? Why?
Take a moment to pray about those verses.
Ananias and Sapphira saw Barnabas' offering and the response that he was getting from the community. In this chapter and in other passages of the Bible, we see Barnabas' reliable, loving, and giving spirit on display-- people admired Barnabas for his sacrifice and were greatly encouraged by his generosity. Ananias and Sapphira wanted the same.
But Ananias and Sapphira weren’t willing to actually make a sacrifice, they only wanted the glory that came with it. They wanted the appearance of godliness without actually living it out. They were living in pretence.
There is no room for pretence in the church. There is no room for “holy words” or “holy actions” just for the sake of appearing holy. A relationship with God cannot happen if we are not honest with Him and with ourselves; real community cannot happen if we are pretending. We must be honest, brave, and vulnerable with one another.
Do you ever feel as if you have to hide parts of yourself to appear "holy?" That is not the freedom that Christ bought for us! Don't pursue the appearance of godliness-- pursue God.
Pray and ask God to reveal areas of your life where you may be hiding or living in pretence. Repent! Confess specifically and ask God to help you change.
Ask God to bring a safe person to mind that you can share with. Be brave! Chances are, you are not the only one who is struggling. Reach out to them in faith. You can say something like-- “Hey can you pray for me? I realised that I’ve been struggling with ____ and I felt like I wanted to share with you.”