by Christopher Harbin

Buying Blessings
Christopher B. Harbin
Acts 8:14-24

We really like to be in charge. We like to be confident. We like to contribute. We like to have status with others. We like to feel good about ourselves. We like to have others depend on us more than we depend on others. We like power and influence. It makes us feel more secure. It builds our self-esteem. It gives us a sense of value and importance. We think it makes us more important. When the gospel of Christ Jesus is all about grace, however, what do we do with our drive to feel important, powerful, or in control?

The prophet Joel had announced the coming of a new day, the "Day of the Lord." At that time, God would pour out God's own breath on all humanity, giving them access to God without distinction. The Jews looked forward to the fulfillment of that prophecy, yet it was a one-of-a-kind prophecy. It seemed to stand apart from the rest of the Old Testament witness to the mind, plan, and will of God. While many yearned for this coming "Day of the Lord," the very idea was difficult for many to swallow.

Joel's prophecy was about the eradication of social distinctions and a complete equality of value before God. For many people, that was a threatening proposition. It smacked of danger, of destruction of the very structures that knit a society together. The words smacked of revolution, of anarchy, of breaking down the very fabric on which society was built, the way people understood and valued one another. It was a threat to life and society as known, introducing people to a wholly new reality.

When God's breath was poured out, it did not happen all at once according to Joel's words. It came about in stages. Today's text was the second stage of that fulfillment. It took a while for the disciples to process what God was all about and their role in extending the reach of God's breath poured out on all humanity. The disciples had first received the anointing of God's breath on Pen ...

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