As we continue to look at the spiritual discipline of worship, our scripture reading has led us to some really interesting stories in the book of Acts. Acts records the progress of the early church after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. In Friday’s reading of the story of Ananias and Sapphira we see both of them telling a lie that in Peter’s words, was a lie to the Holy Spirit. The consequence was death for both.
In the previous chapter of Acts (chapter 4), the author Luke records that the new Christian community shared everything, and the chapter ends with a man named Barnabas selling property and giving an extravagant gift to the community. In the story of Ananias and Sapphira, they also sell property but decide to keep some of the proceeds from the sale to themselves but tell Peter that they are giving the full amount to the community of believers as Barnabas had done. The issue wasn’t that they kept some money for themselves – that was certainly within their right to do. The problem was in the lie they told.
In today’s reading, a beloved member of the community of Joppa named Tabitha (also called Dorcas) became sick and died. Word was sent to Peter who was nearby, and he came to comfort the people. Peter prayed for Tabitha and she was raised from the dead. Tomorrow’s reading is also about someone being raised from the dead through the prayers of Paul. So, these are great stories, but what do they have to do with worship?
For the early church, God’s presence was a palpable force in their lives. Acts records times when they were praying when the building they were meeting in actually shook. Miracles seemed to happen on the regular, but what about today? One of the most radical things that occurred with the death and resurrection of Jesus was that the Shekinah (divine presence of God) no longer resided in the temple but could live inside each believer. It was the offer of God permanently in their midst. If we fully grasped the significance of that, we would have no choice but worship.
This is such a huge topic with a lot to unpack but the thought I want to leave you with today is if you are a follower of Christ, God is not only with you, He is IN you. Spend some time thinking about these verses from Ephesians 1:18-20:
18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.
Executive Director of Education and Outreach