We are continuing our study through the book of Acts. We seem to be taking a little longer through the first couple of chapters than I had expected but I guess that is how it goes sometimes. In this chapter (chapter 5), we are faced with two people who attempted to hide the truth from God. Ananias and Sapphira are two individuals who sold a plot of land for some unknown price and decided to only give half of the money the made from their land to the Apostles. One of the questions I have always wanted to know is: whom on earth did these people sell their land to? Were these people from within the community that were better off or were these transactions with other people from outside the community of believers? Where was this land within the scheme of the community in the first place? Did they deal with other believers or were they unequally yoked? Sometimes, I feel like I am playing The Sims in that when we read the stories of the Bible, we are only allowed to live within the context of the storyline we are given. Apparently there are people who have a lot of land. Apparently, they sell it to other people who have a lot of money and then bring their money to the Apostles who, for whatever reason we are not told, receive the money to distribute to those who are in need without asking how they came upon getting that kind of money. I don’t think it is the biggest issue of the story. I do find it odd though that these questions are not even considered within the context of the Bible. Maybe I am just fishing for something that is not important but I have honest questions regarding the business transactions between the landowners and the buyers of this property. How honest were the dealings of these transactions? Do we even know? Did the Apostles care? I guess perhaps I am reaching for something – I just don’t know.
So Ananias and Sapphira are found to be in sin – like Adam and Eve – they attempt to hide their actions and live as though perhaps God will not take note of their actions. I think I have stated this a lot more this past week to several people I know – but we must constantly take note, that God takes note of our actions no matter how big or small they seem to appear. Ananias and Sapphira did not have to sell their plot of land and they were not required to give all of its proceeds to the Apostles. So where did they go wrong?
They went wrong in the manner in which they gave the proceeds to the Apostles. We are not told exactly from the Scriptures but – reading between the lines a bit – we are told that Ananias and Sapphira told the Apostles that the land was sold for a certain amount of money when it was really sold for twice the amount. I wonder if the Apostles knew from the get-go that Ananias was lying. It is like me telling someone that I sold my car for “x” amount of dollars when I actually sold it either for more or for less. Have you ever read this passage and thought, “Man, why didn’t you just give the money and go?” I have. Then again, I wonder how many times I have acted out in that same fashion.
I can clearly see why Peter was so upset with Ananias and Sapphira. I don’t understand why they dropped dead as a result of their sin. It says that the people were filled with awe (phobia) when they heard about it – I don’t doubt it at all. I wonder what would happen if one of the pastors of our church knew our dirty laundry and came to my house and began to ask me questions about personal things – my finances and whatnot. Would I be able to be honest with them or would I try to hide the truth from them so it seemed as though I was perfectly okay? Would I lie to them and make them believe that I have no downfalls or that I was “perfect in the sight of God?” Would I be superficial in my comments or would I start unpacking my crap that I need to deal with? I can only hope that I would not take the Ananias road in this respect.
So – what have I learned from this passage (other than honesty is the best policy)? I have learned that we are so consumed with building security for our future we would even attempt to hide parts of our actions from others. Being in community is hard work. It takes a person willing to be in relationship with other people in the context of the body of Christ. Genesis to Revelation, God is seen wanting to dwell among His people. Will we allow Go to dwell among us within our community? I hope we can. Maybe if we were to figure out how we could do that, we can learn to be honest with one another and feel free to live as a people set apart for the work of God. I wonder