What Kills Communion-ity?
Key Principle #6: Communion-ity (part 2)
3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
As you look at the book of Acts, notice that in the church, there was a submission to and a trust of leadership. All of the funds were voluntarily laid at the feet of the apostles, a poetic way of stating that once they sold their property, it was no longer under their control, but rather under the direction of the leaders of the early church. That speaks highly of both sides, because the leadership had proved themselves trustworthy. Would you trust the leaders in your church with all of your finances? If you are a leader, would you deserve it?
Again, I’m not recommending that this would be a practice that we could do today, but would you be willing to trust others that much? Someone has said if you want to know what is truly important to people, look at their calendars and their checkbooks (although people don’t use checkbooks now, so look at their "bookings and budget"). Many today are not willing to trust the church with even one percent of their income, let alone ten percent and certainly not 100 percent.
Communion-ity can be shown by a resource more important than money and that is with time. People have different amounts of money, but everyone has the same amount of time and all of it is precious. You can lose a fortune and gain it back, but you cannot regain one single moment of time. When people give time to the community of the church, the church needs to be as careful with it as it is with money. And even more so.
Are you and others in the church at a point where you could be described as of one heart and one soul (Acts 4:32)? If not, commit now to pray for the church that they (and you) would be deserving of such trust and that you would be willing to not hold back in areas that are needed for the church to be where God wants it to be.
My experience has been that we are sadly a far cry from where God wants us to be as a communion-ity. In Chapter 5, the sin of Ananias and Sapphira was not that they kept a portion of the money back. In fact, their sacrificial giving was actually quite commendable. It probably would be welcomed today in many churches, even if they were a little disingenuous to the leaders…and, oh yeah, to God…and to the Holy Spirit.
But therein lies the problem. They weren’t just a little disingenuous, they lied to the leaders and they lied to God. And the motivation for their lie was demonic.
There is a danger of appearing to be spiritual and yet all the while, harboring a willful sin and hypocrisy within. The key principle of communion-ity is that we need to be sincere. That means to be transparent, open, and not “two-faced,” not only privately with God but with one another.
If you didn’t catch it, Ananias and Sapphira saw what others were doing, especially Barnabas, and saw the applause they were getting and decided they wanted to do something like that.
They probably originally planned to give the whole proceeds of the sale to the church. But Ananias decided to hold some of it back. He talked to his wife and she didn’t have any problems with it either. He could have kept the possessions and he would have spared his life. Or he could have sold it and kept the money, and not even tell the church. Or he could have just been honest and gave a portion of it in all sincerity. But he lied, held back on God and held back on honesty to the church. As a result, he was struck down. So the issue was not what he did but why he did it.
Communion-ity occurs when the church does not “hold back” on God. It may not be money or time, but it could be your sincerity, or in your openness, or your spiritual giftedness, or something else. Ask God what is holding the church back from true communion within the community.
One last thought: Communion-ity is important not only in the church, but any relationship, especially marriage and families. Are there friendships, work relationships and other areas that you are holding back on? Just remember the lessons of Ananias and Sapphira: Holding back can be a killer in communion-ity.