Impression Management… Part 1

Posted: December 16, 2013 in Impression Management, Podcasts
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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Impression Management…, sounds…, i don’t know, somewhat impressive? It just rolls off my tongue, “What do you do?” “i’m in Impression Management.”

This weeks posts and podcasts will come from Acts 5:1-11. It’s there that i found a story about the deaths of a husband, Ananias and his wife, Sapphira?  This story could seem out of place in reference to what is shared in the first four chapters of Acts. Upon reading the first part of Acts i found that from the beginning, Luke has been sharing about the things the disciples were enabled to do and teach after the ascension of Jesus.  Luke tells about the power of the Holy Spirit in the apostle’s lives and the phenomenal growth of the Church.  In Acts 4:33 he summarizes everything by saying, “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.”  It’s a picture of the community of God’s people working to it’s fullest.  But then comes Acts 5:1-11, the story of Ananias and Sapphira and their deaths and it just doesn’t seem to fit with what was described previously.

Is this a deviation? Is it an interruption in this community? And is this story really as depressing as it sounds?

First off, it’s not a deviation nor an interruption and as for depressing or not, you’ll have to decide for yourself. But a man named Ananias—his wife, Sapphira, conniving in this with him—sold a piece of land, secretly kept part of the price for himself, and then brought the rest to the apostles and made an offering of it.” No problem with that…? Or is there?

Acts 4:36-37 tells of a man named Barnabas who sold a field and gave the money to the apostles so that it could be used for distribution among the believers who were in need.  He must have gotten praise and thanks from the community.  In fact, his name was actually “Joseph”, but the apostles called him “Barnabas” which means “Son of Encouragement”.  It is this event at the end of the chapter 4 which leads into Acts 5:1-11. Ananias, having seen Barnabas do what he did, decides along with this wife, to do the same thing.  There’s just one small, teensy weensy, difference. His action is motivated by a different spirit than that of Barnabas. Barnabas was moved by the Holy Spirit to do what he did, and because of that he won much praise and favor from God and men. Ananias did the opposite. Being moved by a different spirit, an unholy spirit, he received no praise, but only severe judgment.

The fact that Luke puts the story of Ananias and his wife in this book, indicates to me that his purpose was to present an accurate and historical account of the first century Christian Church.  Seriously, what author, would include a story which might cause offense to those who hear it?  To many people this story sounds judgmental, harsh, cruel, and that perhaps should not be included when trying to communicate the good news of Christ.  Their thoughts may be, “Isn’t the Lord supposed to love everyone?  Doesn’t his grace come upon all people?”  Even some theologians have said that they hope this story is a legend and not true because it makes the apostle Peter seem harsh and God’s judgment severe.

On with the story. Verses 3 and 4, “Peter said, “Ananias, how did Satan get you to lie to the Holy Spirit and secretly keep back part of the price of the field? Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours to do with as you wished. So what got into you to pull a trick like this? You didn’t lie to men but to God.”

There was nothing demanding or being asked of Ananias regarding this offering so Peter wants to know how Satan got him to lie. “Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours to do with as you wished.” So the question is why? This comes the title of this post, “Impression Management”. I’ll get back to that.

Verses 5 and 6, “Ananias, when he heard those words, fell down dead. Don’t you know, that put the fear of God into everyone who heard of it. The younger men went right to work, wrapped him up, then carried him out and buried him.”

Think about it, Ananias was not even given a chance to repent before he was struck down.  Then the apostles didn’t even take the time to inform his wife about his death.

Verses 7 – 10, Not more than three hours later, his wife, knowing nothing of what had happened, came in. Peter said, “Tell me, were you given this price for your field?” “Yes,” she said, “that price.” Peter responded, “What’s going on here that you connived to conspire against the Spirit of the Master? Imagine the surprise when Peter says, “The men who buried your husband are at the door, and you’re next.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than she also fell down, dead. When the young men returned they found her body. They carried her out and buried her beside her husband.” That’s some kind of pastoral care!

Perhaps we, i mean i could use a dose of that type of reality because verse 11 says, “By this time the whole church and, in fact, everyone who heard of these things had a healthy respect for God. They knew God was not to be trifled with.”

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