Text: Acts 8:14-25
To not treat God transactionally, but gladly receive his gifts
PETER ARRIVES IN THE SAMARITAN TOWN and immediately has to deal with Simon the wonderworker. Simon is savvy enough to know the difference between his parlor-tricks and this outpouring of Godly power; he takes Peter aside and says “hey, what will it take to move me up to the inner circle? I want what you’ve got.”
The attitude of Simon is a snare to us all. We want to think of our relationship with God transactionally, a spiritual quid pro quo, where we promise something to God, and in exchange wish to receive something from God—for our purposes. We will take what God gives and make use of it according to our own goals. We pray for protection, and say we are willing to keep praying, but we mean for the protection God gives to cover the risks we take for ourselves.
As Peter thunders to Simon, so he says to us: you cannot come to God that way, and to try is a sign of our great danger. There is simply nothing you or I can give to God that he needs. Even our piety-talk, where we presume that we can give God our hearts, is misleading because our hearts belong to God! The reason our hearts are restless, as Augustine so wisely saw, is because we think that our hearts are ours to give to whatever or whomever we wish; we are Simon, thinking that we have something to exchange.
No, God must deal with us graciously, giving us what we need, forgiving us when we fall, redeeming us and getting us started anew. The story of Acts is what comes of God’s grace.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks