Indeed the idols I have loved so long, / Have… sold my reputation for a song.
This is a shocking story, on two levels. First, it shows how quickly the generous example of Barnabas could be perverted by a couple acting in collusion. How can unaffected goodness be cheapened by such tawdry showmanship? Whether or not they desired to be part of the celebrity culture of their day, it seems that saw a ‘photo opportunity’ and went for it. In a cold-blooded, calculating act, they foreshadowed Andy Warhol’s famous 1968 comment, ‘In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes’. Be careful what you ask for, for they got it, but their ‘fame’- or rather, ‘infamy’ had lasted for two thousand years. Their brazen and unnecessary hypocrisy, fueled perhaps by envy, was condemned as lying to God. This was not the time for therapeutic con selling but for exposure, lest they set a pattern that would become a precedent in the early church. In the event, their action affected the whole church, though not in the way they intended.
Secondly, this story is shocking in its wake-up call to those who would casually domesticate God. As we read in the Narnia tales, Aslan is ‘ not like a tame lion’. As with Achan’s sin in the early days of conquest of Canaan, or Uzzah’s presumption in the ark’s move to Jersusalem, a marker was laid down that forced the people of God to reassess how seriously they took God’s holiness
How easy it is to become so comfortable with God that we take him for granted! This is a wake-up call against presumption, when we might be lazy for careless in the way we approach God. We should also be very wary before we claim God’s name to justify our agenda. Don’t exaggerate your spiritual claims, Watch and pray.
We share Ananias sin when we try to make others think we are more spiritual than we are. Lord, search my heart, guard my tongue.