3. An authenticity that’s lived out.
In the early church, believers were giving big time. Some even sold pieces of property and gave the money to the apostles to help provide for the needy believers in Jerusalem. But then hypocrisy crept in a side door and almost brought the story to a stop:
“Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife, Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.’ When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.” Acts 5:1-5
Ananias and his wife tried to pull one over on the apostles. They wanted the applause of the congregation but tried to deceive the disciples by pretending they gave the full price of the field they sold to the disciples.
Peter would have none of it. His apostolic authority caused them both to drop dead on the spot as a lesson to the church. What was the lesson? Hypocrisy would not be tolerated.
What if there were a drop-dead policy for hypocrisy in the church today? How many of us would keel over?
Young people have a “bologna barometer” that is on at all times. They can smell hypocrisy like my dog can smell the bacon from the other side of the house.
We don’t need perfect churches. We need honest churches. We need churches that, in the words of Dr. Chuck Swindoll, are who they are, “warts and all.” But they are failing forward together in the Name and power of Jesus.
If we want to reach this next generation, we must give them a cause to live for, a community to live with and an authenticity that’s lived out. Then, instead of leaving the church in droves, they will be flooding it.