Not-for-profit power

Date: Thursday, June 20

ScriptureActs 8:14-25

Verse: Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:18-19)

I was chatting with someone recently about driving in different countries. They were sharing with me how knowing the laws of the road is only part of the issue. Far more important is knowing the culture of the road in any particular country. There are unspoken ways of approaching stop signs, for instance, that everyone else seems to know. I have experienced a bit of that. I know I drive far less aggressively today than I did in New Jersey. International business people have also told me the importance of knowing the culture. When to give gifts, how to greet people, how to enter a building, and more can all be unwritten rules that will change how people perceive you, and can jeopardize the sale or negotiation. 

Simon’s old ways don’t work in the Kingdom of God. Simon was used to being one who was listened to and seen as one with great power (see yesterday’s devotion). To regain that status, he does what he had been used to doing. Offering money for power worked for him previously, and continues to work in our world today, but is not the culture of the church. Peter and John are quick to condemn Simon’s offer because God’s work is not about power or money. Simon’s instincts are good. He wants to share the power of the Holy Spirit with others. His understanding of what the Spirit is about though, is seriously lacking. It is interesting that one of the people Simon asks about this is John, who had once done something very similar by asking for him and his brother James to sit at Jesus’ left and right hand (Mark 10:35-45; Matthew 20:20-28). 

The same can be true in the church today. We have seen those who seek to gain power in the church, those who jockey for attention, those who vie for station and position. We have all done it, and we all at times need to be reminded our faith is not about us, not about power, not about wealth, not about anything else other than love for God in Jesus Christ. 

Prayer: Clear my motives, O God, that I may serve you for your sake alone. Amen. 

Action: Take note of unwritten rules you abide by today. 

Respond: What actions have you seen work in one culture that do not work in another? Answer by clicking “Leave a Comment” below. If you are receiving this via email, click the title at the top of the email to take you to the devotion webpage where you can leave a comment.

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About Joe Iovino

Christian, husband & father, Associate Pastor in Monument CO, guitar player, motorcyclist, Mets fan.
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