“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” was one of those quotes I kept from high school, Tale of Two Cities. Today we enter the second “city.” After the mountain-top of Pentecost, the survival of overnight jail and interrogation by authorities, the new followers are challenged not only by external pressures but also internal drama. Joseph who becomes known as Barnabas, son of encouragement, sells a field to help the new community. I bet his gift was met with many thank-you-s. Ananias and Saphira, a couple in the fellowship, sell a piece of their property also. Leaders inspire followers but this couple adds a twist. They turn over money to the fellowship but keep some for themselves. That may not have been wrong but they lied to Peter about the amount. It seems that the “city” without is challenging the group’s integrity and the “city” within is challenging their integrity also. Our faith must not only grow in the face of prejudice but also in face of challenges to our integrity.
As we ponder how these early believers grew from a group of scared people behind closed doors on Easter evening to become a group that changed the world, integrity must have been an important characteristic God wanted to build into them. The husband lied first and died on the spot. The wife came in shortly after and she too lied. She dropped dead. We don’t hear these kind of stories today but that does not mean integrity and honesty are not important, to God and to the growth of ourselves and our fellowships. It is so easy to fudge a little or just forget to tell the whole story. All the court drama today testify to our desire that government, police, schools, families …. Our leaders be people of integrity.
Sooooo, how do you measure up? We want to “protect the innocent” and hyppa reminds us not to gossip about information that is not ours to share but it is still worth spending a couple of moments now asking the Holy Spirit to bring to mind areas where we are challenged and why. For me if I expect censure, I might slip. Ouch. It is a good thing we can confess and seek forgiveness. Blessings as you face challenges without and within today!