A Tribute to Dietrich – Psalm 119

“Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths” (Psalm 119:1-3, NLT).

I recently read the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. Bonhoeffer was a German pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, and the key founding member of the Confessing Church in Germany during the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich in Germany prior to and during World War II.  Bonhoeffer, who wrote the Christian classic, The Cost of Discipleship, was imprisoned and eventually executed by the Nazis at the age of thirty-nine for his Christian faith and participation in a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler.

The detailed biography was an interesting and inspirational read but left me with some disturbing theological questions concerning the tension between good and evil in this present world. Although Metaxas probably didn’t intend to agitate his readers when writing the biography, the story of Bonhoeffer’s brief life and tragic death certainly raised some concerns about God’s justice for me!

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The Power of Integrity – Acts 5:32

“We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:32, NLT)

After a first wave of persecution by the Jewish religious leaders, the early Church flourished because it had been empowered by God: “Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women.” (Acts 5:14, NLT).

Acts 5:1-11 records the events that precipitated this great demonstration of the power of God in the Church.

A man named Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold some property and brought a portion of the proceeds to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount.

The Apostle Peter, by the power of the Holy Spirit, recognized their deception and told them they had embezzled the money from God: “You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!” (vs. 3-4).

Both Ananias and Sapphira fell dead when Peter confronted them with their sin!

Their lack of integrity had the potential to compromise the Church  and so they fell under the direct judgment of God.

The sudden judgment on Ananias and Sapphira had a sobering effect on both the believers and others who heard about the incident.  

A believer’s integrity is critical to the effectiveness of his or her witness to others.

The power of the Holy Spirit is not hindered when believers live and act with integrity.

To engage in deception and somehow think that God doesn’t know is a fundamental misconception of one’s faith (or lack of faith). That sort of behavior would certainly call into question whether the deceiver really knows Christ and has the indwelling Holy Spirit.

For the Church to thrive and effectively (and powerfully) declare the gospel, Christ’s followers must be people of the highest integrity.

“The way of the Lord is a stronghold to those with integrity.” (Provers 10:29, NLT).