For those of you who have not been following my “I Am ______” series; I know I am Dave Peever. I have not had some sort of disconnect from reality, I know that I am not three people, Ananias, Sapphira and Dave Peever. While my awareness of reality and mental stability is hopefully reassuring let me give you a real scare; I am Ananias and Sapphira!
Every day I am Ananias and Sapphira.
Every day I am given the opportunity to present myself as the real me. Every day I am tempted to embellish the reality of who I really am. Every day I am given the opportunity to sacrifice for what I believe in. Every day I am tempted to make myself look more sacrificial than I am willing to be. Every day I am given the opportunity to do what is right. Every day I am tempted to do what furthers my agenda whether is right or not.
Every day as a pastor I am Ananias and Sapphira.
There is a pressure that is the constant enemy of pastors. While some of it is real, most of it is a deception that Satan uses to distort how we view our position.
Every day I struggle with the belief that others expect their pastor to be closer to perfection than they are. Every day I am tempted to cover up my failings. Every day I struggle with the belief that others expect me to know more about the Bible than they do. Every day I am tempted to make myself look smarter than I am. Every day I struggle with the belief that I don’t matter because my job as pastor is not a job that receives praise from secular society. Every day I am tempted to try to make myself look like I have a job that fits into the world’s view of success.
As a pastor he is Ananias and Sapphira.
His pulpit has become a place to brag about his morality. Sometimes he throws in statements like, “I am just like you” or “I struggle with things” but his continuous attempts to make himself look great expose the fact that whether he is speaking truth or not he is seeking to make himself look good.
His time at the front of the church often includes a reference to his mentors. Even if he doesn’t use names it is still obvious that he is referring to those who are considered greats in the Christian world. Careful thought would cause anyone listening to realize that his mentorship could have been a face to face meeting but more likely was a simulcast or live training session or maybe a study of one of this person’s books. He uses carefully chosen words of self-promotion to create the illusion of importance.
He calls a day of prayer for the leaders of the community. Once they are at the Sunday service he tells stories of times they have interacted as if they were great friends. The church service turns into a time of look at me I know the town leaders, I’ve met them in person and hang out with them. Once he tells everyone about who he knows and how he knows them he squeezes in a short prayer, after all, it is a church service.
He introduces the guest speaker by suggesting that he was hard at work on his sermon when he got a call from this person telling him that they were in town and begging him for the opportunity to speak at the service. When the guest speaker stands up they tell a different story. They tell the congregation that they called to see how the pastor was doing and that the pastor begged them to speak. His version of the truth had him working hard on his sermon like a pastor who is living out their calling should, the speaker’s version would suggest that wasn’t true.
Ananias and Sapphire died because of what they did. This pastor has seen his church decline considerably and his reputation destroyed because he has yet to repent or see a need to repent for this behaviour. This is not a physical death but it is a death of sorts.
We all are Ananias and Sapphira.
We all are tempted to make ourselves look good even if it involves carefully chosen not quite true words of self-promotion. We have all wanted to elevate ourselves in the eyes of others by embellishing what we have done or who we know.
The problem is compounded for Ananias and Sapphira and us when lies are created to make ourselves look more godly, more holy, more sacrificial. Lies are sinful but this type of lie goes further. This type of lie uses God, the community of believers and a platform created to point toward the great things God is doing to promote one’s self. You may be able to fool the people but God, who you say you are serving, will not be used as a tool for personal gain or advancement of status.
I am Ananias and Sapphira.
I must struggle to avoid doing what they did even though I can’t avoid what caused them to do it. Every day I am tempted as a follower of Christ and a pastor to promote myself. Every time I enter the pulpit I want to look good. I want every person I meet to think I am smart. To lie to people about who I am and what I do as a follower of Christ so that they think better of me is the path toward death. It is the beginning of spiritual death and possibly a physical one too.
Click here for the story of Ananias and Sapphira
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