Today’s Bible reading
Read Acts 5:1-11
Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of these things. …
A great number of people would also gather from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.
More thoughts for meditation
The famous story of Ananias and Sapphira is told in Acts 5. They band together to support each other in withholding the proceeds of their property while appearing to give it all. Their intimacy is achieved at the expense of the larger community. In his commentary on the passage, Willie James Jennings does not mince words about them:
Here is the energy that drives the most powerful forms of cultural, social, or economic boundaries. Here is the fortress that resists the new order most consistently. Here is where the worship of possessions and money come fully to life: in the two made one flesh. Together they imagine they can do anything. Together they believe in their sovereignty.
Being materialistic or deceptive might not be worthy of death. It was the threat of the sovereign couple that needed to be challenged for the community to survive and flourish.
Jennings seems to think this narrative speaks more powerfully to the present era than the ancient. He writes to us,
We have not had the courage to face the idolatry of the couple…Modern coupling is an energy-draining vortex that seeks to capture all our imaginative capacity for intimacy.
The Holy Spirit takes back from the couple what rightly belongs to God and to the community formed in and through the resurrected Jesus. No longer will the couple be the keeper of the secret, the owner of the intimate, or the custodian of the closed field of dreams, both personal and private. The community of Jesus confronts the couple with a new truth: you belong to us; we do not belong to you.
In short, alongside the first sense of the revolution of the intimate that we saw in Acts 10, where those who are distant are made close, there is also this second sense: the revolution of the intimate must revolutionize the way intimacy is usually practiced.
Suggestions for action
We couple in many ways. The most “sovereign” way is our marriage and the kingdom of our families. Consider this surprising look at the surprising incident of Ananias and Sapphira. Is your family subject to the resurrected Jesus? Ask Jesus about it.
Consider the secrets you and your mate keep, married or not. Do you have a tacit agreement to keep your distance from God? Do you feel your mate would object if you were wholeheartedly a member of the new community in Christ — would they feel they “lost you” to Jesus or are in competition with the church? Ask each other.