Buying the Holy Spirit
I want to be quick to clarify that I am not saying that you can buy the Holy Spirit or that you should try to, I read this passage in Acts 8:18-19 last night and wanted to discuss it a little today:
“Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.'” – Acts 8:18-19
If you are to read the whole passage, your first reaction might be like mine…You might be appalled that someone would have the nerve to try and buy the working and power of the Holy Spirit. You also may immediately think that this guy is crazy, you may think it is a rookie mistake because he was a young christian, or you may even think that Peter was a little hard on the former magician who was used to people paying for this type of thing. After taking some time to really think about it, the thing that struck me the most about this passage is how close it hits to home for me and I believe probably many if not most other Christians in some way or another. I by no means think that any of us have ever offered money to someone else or to GOD in exchange for the Holy Spirit’s power, but what I do mean is how this passage speaks to the evil in our hearts. We want everything to be easy. We want to be able to just call on Him and He do exactly what we want when we want it. But the truth is that it’s not easy in the way we want it to be easy…Relationships never are. It takes time, work, and sacrifice. And not just time as in a 30 minute quiet time every day, or work as in showing up to church every week, or even sacrifice as in giving money to a church or ministry. The thing about GOD is that He calls us to give up our whole lives to Him, to give our bodies as a living sacrifice (Romans 1) and to persevere through everything (James 1).
I started to think about my own life in regards to this passage. About how there have been many times where I knew I needed GOD’s power and His guidance in my life but I did not do anything to seek after it. The great and difficult thing about Christianity is that it is a relationship rather than a religion. It’s great and awe-inspiring because GOD wants a relationship with us so badly that He sent His Son Jesus to pursue us and die for us who subsequently left the Spirit who lives inside of us and guides us to Him. That is an incredible pursuit that culminates in a relationship between a loving GOD and a sinful me. But the difficult part about that is that I am terrible at being in a relationship. I want things the way that I want them when I want them and where I want them. I want to override the relational aspect of being the bride of Christ with the selfish desires and wants that I have every single day of my life…And is that not exactly where Simon found himself in this moment?
We may not offer money for the Holy Spirit but think about some things we may possibly do:
- Have you ever gotten upset with GOD because you do not know the “direction” or “purpose” of your life just and then realize you have not spent any time with the GOD who is your direction and purpose?
- Have you ever gotten upset with GOD because things have been going terribly only to realize that He was trying to bring you closer to Him through suffering and trials?
- Have you ever wondered why GOD has not answered your prayers just to realize that you prayed the prayer once or twice and never really expected Him to respond?
- Have you ever looked around and thought that GOD was blessing other people even though you are “better” than they are finally to realize that we are all sinners and our only hope is in the grace of Jesus Christ?
- Do you ever wonder why the power of the Holy Spirit does not seem real in your life just to realize that you have spent less time asking for that than you have for every other physical need in the world (including but not limited to a better golf swing, better hair, more money, a better house, etc.).
What struck me last night is how similar to Simon the magician I actually am sometimes. I don’t try to buy the Holy Spirit, but I certainly do cheapen who He is and what He does. I want everything my way and I want it as fast as possible doing as little work as possible and receiving as much glory as possible. Let’s be appalled at what Simon asked, but let’s also make sure we never do the same thing he did when he cheapened the work of the Holy Spirit and the relationship that we have with Jesus Christ by asking to buy them off. Let’s begin to pursue Christ for who He is because He first pursued us even though we are who we are and then let that relationship be the thing that we desire. Let’s begin to desire GOD, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit not because they can give us things but because we love them more than anything else in this world.