God is not for sale

Money_and_god

When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God.”

May your money perish with you? The ancients seemed to be fairly sure that consumer logic runs counter to Christian logic, that commercialized Christianity should be regarded as an oxymoron.

Yet it is too easy for me to take the Pharisaical approach and say, “Thank God I’m not one of those televangelists or prosperity preachers.” Too easy. Too easy to avoid the more uncomfortable questions that arise every now and then: “How different am I, as a prolific consumer of Christian books? Is the internal logic of the Christian publishing industry any different? Is it any less commercial? Aren’t I just as caught up in consumerism as they are, in my own way?” All sorts of self-justifications come to mind.

But none work completely.

Reflecting further I come to this realization: self-examination is more mature than other-examination, but neither give me hope unless they are accompanied by God-examination. It is not until I meditate on the character of God, as revealed through Jesus, that I realize this is not the end of the story. It is just the beginning.

 

One Comment

  1. Last week I was at a Retreat for a couple of days with my fellow workers, sponsored by our employer. The facilitators of the teaching sessions took us on a journey exploring the theme “Spiritual Bypassing”. One of the manifestations of it, according to them, was the expectation of spiritual short cuts to maturity. They used the same passage you quote here in your post, to illustrate the way this “simple” Simon thought he could “dispense” power for miracles. He observed “the laying on of hands” as the technique involved, and wished to purchase it with money, rather than do the hard yards of discipleship to mature in the ministry.
    There are people who seem to have charisma and miraculous powers, however, their authenticity is tested over the passage of time, and whether they are people of integrity or superficiality becomes manifest. It is often said that the development of character is necessary for maturity, and that is something that takes time and not money to achieve…

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