As I reflected this morning on all that has happened over the weekend, with church, home, family, friends and our environment. My thoughts drifted to how toxic a world we live in, we live in a world with vast amounts of many things but even a great body of water with a little poison becomes extremely toxic. My point is even when the majority of a substance or system is good if a small part contains toxins then the whole system is toxic.
Lets look to the scripture of today's reflection:
ACTS 8: 9Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, "This man is the divine power known as the Great Power." 11They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. 12But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
14When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money 19and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."20Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."
This scripture spoke to me today and reveled that some people are like toxins to the church, the community, the corporation to society at large . They may look harmless, and they blend in with others, they may even be admired or held of high esteem like Simon in the text. See, Simon the sorcerer fit this description. It's amazing that he began to follow Philip. The text says that Simon believed in Christ and even was baptized. However not long after becoming part of the early Church he asked to buy the ability to lay hands on people so they could receive the Holy Spirit. Peter was appalled at his request and urged him to repent.
This made me think about all of the people who use the favorable environment of a healthy church as a network for selfish purposes. These persons are like toxins in a great body of water, they cause much misery, pain and illness. Like Simon, anyone who does this needs to repent, and everyone else needs to avoid contact with such a person. Spiritual look-alikes appear good but their “fruit” is toxic. As members of the church "the body of Christ" we must do two things: 1) We must check our toxic level daily- making sure that we are not harming others or polluting the healthy living environments of the church. We must do our best to live toxin free. 2) We must use the spiritual gift of discernment to stay away and neutralize all other toxic persons. We can do this through sharing the love of Christ, speaking truth to power and faithfully believing that God will equip us to effectively evangelize toxic persons transforming them into healthy members of the church.
Are you living toxin free?
Dear God please help us to live a life that is acceptable and pleasing to you, let us not use the church for our own selfish endeavors but for your praise according to your will. Help us to remember that the church is not about us but about you! Amen!
Until the morning,