We are studying Acts 4:32 – 5:11 for Sunday, November 22; this is Luke’s description of the earliest Christians, and the story of Ananias and Sapphira. In its own day the story of Ananias and Sapphira overcame its hearers with great fear, so we will need to “be strong and courageous” for this study. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are some questions we might want to consider as we study and discuss the text:
Verses 32-35 describe the early “believers,” those we think of as the earliest Christians. What appeals to you about this description? What doesn’t? Why?
If we think of the community or communities of Christians we ourselves are most familiar with, how does this community in Acts 4:32-35 compare? How is it similar, how is it different? What accounts for that pattern of similarities and differences, do we think?
In what ways would we like to see our own community come closer to the one described in Acts? Why those ways? Why not others?
[Maybe more theoretical – but then again, maybe not] Do we think of the community described in Acts as “the ideal” or “the model” Christian community? Why, or why not? If the community described in Acts isn’t “the ideal” or “model” Christian community, what would be? Or, do we think there is no such a community? Why do we think this?
Verses 36 & 37 describe Barnabas and his action in some detail. Why, do we think? What does it seem to be important to know about Barnabas? What makes that important? Do we think of Barnabas as a role model? A model for all Christians? For some Christians? Why?
It seems clear that Ananias and Sapphira did something wrong. What do we think it was? Why do we think that?
Do we have a theory about why they did that? [More personal] What does our theory tell us about … ourselves?
Do we need to talk about the very serious penalty Ananias and Sapphira suffer in this story? How do we feel about that, what do we think about that, how do we deal with that aspect of this story? What questions or concerns does this part of the story raise for us? Any? Why is that, do we think?
Would this make a good stewardship text, do we think? Why, or why not?
And what does that tell us about … ourselves?
[I’m telling you, you all, I personally think it would make an awesome stewardship text! And I’m not even joking … although I am a little. But my guess is any preacher who would preach it during stewardship season would have to “be strong and courageous,” and possibly also a little daft, and would probably get a lot of pushback …]
We are supposed to be thinking about love this quarter, too, so … what do we think this story tells us about love? Where do we see love in action? Where do we not? Are there some lessons for us in that? What are they? And what do we see ourselves doing to put those lessons into practice?