Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Integrity is...

Last week we (the youth group BLG teachers) did a Bible study lesson on integrity. It's always been a big deal to me so I love learning and teaching about it.

The passage we used was Acts 5:1-11. It's the story of Ananias and Sapphira ( I don't remember ever reading that story before). Anyway, the readers digest version is that they were living in the early church days which mean't they were intimately involved in the lives of their Christian community. They shared everything and when needs were made known, they would work together to meet them. Anyway, this couple sold some land and made a profit. Although they weren't required to give the church the entire amount or even a certain amount, they decided to "keep back part of the money". Basically when it came time to tell Peter what their offering was, they lied about how much they made on the sale of their land. God revealed to Peter the truth and when confronted with their sin (dishonesty/ lack of integrity) they died on the spot.

Taken out of context this punishment might seem brutal but there was purpose for it. This judgment served as warning to the people, even to us, that God HATES sin. When we look at it from that perspective instead of being appalled we should be grateful for the provision of Jesus Christ as the atonement of our sins.

When the other church members found out about this they became afraid. But this fear strengthened the Church. It caused believers to examine their lives for sin. It raised accountability among believers to confess their sin and pray for each other. They placed more emphasis on being "filled with the Spirit" so that they would be more likely to withstand temptations.

This story reminded me that INTEGRITY IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO THE UNIFICATION OF THE CHURCH. Remember this was a close-knit group that depended on each other for all of their needs. Imagine the effect un-checked dishonesty could have had on the closeness of their community.

Like it or not, if you are a Christian, you are a representative of all believers. Fair or not, people will judge all Christians by your actions. You have a responsibility to the Church (the global body of all believers) to "conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel" -Phillippans 1:27

Our churches are not that different than the New Testament Church (at least they are not supposed to be). We are a body of believers unified by Christ. When we fail to act in a manner consistent with the teachings of Christ that affects the Church. It's so important to have a sound character as a Christian.

Integrity is who you are when no one is looking.


Amanda said...

Maybe that lesson should be reviewed every Saturday!

bonnie said...

Thank you Bethany! I hope many people read your blog today. Unfortunately, there are different human ideas of where to draw the line according to Philippians 1:27.
Does your group agree on where to draw the line?

Nathan said...

Care to explain that comment a little more in detail, Bonnie? Not really understanding what you are trying to say there.

bonnie said...

Nathan, some people accept the idea its okay to do or say something because other people are doing or saying it and it seems to be okay for them. Some forget to reference the bible to understand what real sin is.... such as dishonesty. A person is responsible for their actions as a Christian and should not do things because it's a "fad" or "approved" by others. And since we are not perfect, we must pray for our forgiveness. So in essence, where do you draw the line according to God's word and society? What is acceptable with God verses what is acceptable with others we know? Or do you make compromises with others? Keep in mind, we "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God". I someone was walking ahead of you on the street and dropped a dollar bill accidently, would you pick it up and give it back or would you keep it? Your action would determine the integrity of your honesty.

Nathan said...

First of all, dishonesty is never okay.

Secondly, would I pick up a dollar from a person I saw drop and give it back to them? Absolutely. I did it 2 days ago.

Would I keep it if I didn't see who dropped it? Absolutely! :-)

I think the point of this post was to simply say that when we as followers of Christ fall (especially in a leadership position), it doesn't just affect us...it affects the church. It affects the view that culture views Christianity.

What makes the difference is how we, as followers of Christ, get back up. Do we get up and say, "yeah...I fell. That sucked. I was wrong" and the change our life pattern accordingly? Or do we continue on a downward spiral.

The world needs to see how Christians deal with failure, pain, hurt, etc. because that is what makes us REAL. That is what shows the grace and mercy of Christ in our lives.

*my jumbled thoughts*

bonnie said...

You are absolutely right in your point Nathan. But not all people think the same way you do or as God would want them to. We are all real and different in many ways just as God had planned. If God had made us all perfect, there would be no failure for us to grow as Christians.

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