The Lost and Livid
“And great fear came over the whole church, . . .” Acts 5:11
Enough already! This is the response of many who have given up and walked out on the church. We will never know how many people Ananias and his wife kept out of the first Christian fellowship. How many people might there have been who, when they heard of the couple who cheated, said to themselves, “If that’s the best these Christians can do, it’s not for me.”
It’s easy for us to look back at the first century, New Testament church with confidence and convince ourselves that the church survived and thrived in spite of the couple’s disobedience.
But, when we bring this story into our day, it ceases to be abstract. Think of some of the people who make up the church at large today, there are business people who abandon the Christian ethic in their daily dealings with others. There are couples who have thrown away the sanctity of the marriage vows. The individuals who make no effort to control their temper, bridle their tongue. There are those who don’t think twice about discriminating.
Hypocrisy cast a long shadow on the church. Christians behaving badly confirms the suspicions of the cynical. It alienates the loyalty of the young, wounds the innocent, and becomes a barrier to all those who are seeking Jesus. It would be bad enough if it were only a question of the individual’s fate. But when it involves the church, it’s even worse.
We, as a church, don’t hide, deny, or vilify our problems. Rather, we share our mistakes and extend forgiveness from God, and from one another. In doing so, we are strengthened to go after the lost and the livid.
Are your faith and life aligned? In what ways can you be a greater example of Jesus to others?