18/10/11 Job 3-4; Acts 8-9
S: Acts 8:18-23 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power.
“Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed, “so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!” But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.”
O: While I was working on my Ph.D., I met several Catholics in the Graduate InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (GradIV) who helped overcome my prejudices against Catholics. Getting to know these people, I realised that they were totally committed to following Jesus Christ, so how could I claim that they were not real Christians?
One of these Catholic friends told me that the Catholic Church calls what Simon Magus did "simony" -- attempting to use money to purchase the things of God. He also told me that indeed, many people in positions of authority in the Catholic Church during Martin Luther's time, including the pope himself, were indeed practising simony to an extreme level with regards to indulgences -- which led to some of the grievances that led to Martin Luther's rebellion against the Catholic church. (A good Catholic admitting that the pope during Luther's time committed a great sin? Sure: the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility doesn't mean that popes can't sin -- it only means that when the pope teaches in an official capacity, he cannot teach erroneous doctrine.)
But lest non-Catholics get too smug, there is an insidious heresy creeping through Protestants, Evangelicals and Charismatics today -- the Prosperity Gospel. "Give to the church and God will bless you!" Doesn't that sound like the simony of indulgences as well?
A: Let us serve God out of a pure heart! Let us give generously out of love for God and people, rather than seeking our own material gain. We cannot bribe God!
P: Father, keep us from the sin of simony and give us a generous heart. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)