The Simonizers

"Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, 'Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay may hands may receive the Holy Spirit." Acts 8: 18-19

The church has always held an attraction for those who have a religious bent, and a spirit of greed. These people can always see the sweet, untapped potential, in this holy hive of busy bees. They come up with a solid business plan, eye-catching logo, state of the art web-site, interest peaking book title, and an ad campaign that would make Madison Avenue blush with envy.

These chameleons, posing as preachers market the church like it was a "Sham WOW!" commercial on late night TV. In most cases, their "ministry" is more like "Scam Now!" Just because they are good at it, doesn't mean they were called to it. Just because they can't keep their hands off of The Body of Christ, doesn't mean they were meant to rub their hands all over it. They are like a moth to a flame. Sooner are later, they flame out.

The list is endless. Every time another scandal. involving a religious leader, guru, or celebrity, fires up, the entire church gets scorched, by their flames. Somewhere along the way, these posers turned, "I must be about My Father's business," into "I must make a buck in The Father's business." Eventually, they are successful in making a name, and making a buck, but they never make a difference, and the church gets Simonized.

Diane Sawyer, an aggressive, seasoned investigative reporter, explained why she has stopped exposing these bad apples. She observed that every time she reveals the rotten fruit, another crop emerges, worse than ever. No lessons ever seem to be learned, by the crop failures of others. Greed and avarice, fame and fortune always prove to be powerful fertilizers to the soil of a corrupt heart.

Note to self: Don't play with fire. The Holy Spirit intends to purify your heart, by burning up everything in you that can't be improved, by turning up the heat. Don't try to use the Holy Spirit, by warming your hands at His holy fire. He intends to consume you. Don't ever believe you can consume Him, and walk away, without being burned.

Simon didn't want Jesus. Simon wanted the power of The Spirit. He didn't want the consistent companionship and maturing of character that only comes with a life-time of intimacy with Jesus. He wanted immediate results. He was not looking for a long walk in the right direction. He wanted a short cut to swift satisfaction. Avoid short cuts!

Peter's response?

"May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God." Acts 8: 21

Peter's solution?

"Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity." Acts 8: 22-23

There is so much pious drivel that passes for biblical insight. Some would have us believe that it is woefully judgmental for the church to inspect the fruit, it is responsible for bearing. It is not. Allowing rotten fruit to be passed on to people, without calling out the people who are producing it, is not piety. It is cowardice.

Don't get me wrong. Hating someone, for what they are doing wrong doesn't make you a better person. Praying for them will. Peter called out Simon. He didn't make it his calling in life to root him out, or set his orchard on fire. Throwing rocks at every barking dog you hear, prolongs your journey and gets you off course. To stay the course, pray for people who are in the ditch.

After Peter called Simon out, Simon asked for prayer. "Pray to the Lord for me yourselves..." (Acts 8:24). The litmus test of a person's piety is not how much wrong they can point out in another person's life. The Simonizers will always be stalking the church. When God gives you discernment about their dangerous activity, point it out, but don't stop there.

"Discernment is given for intercession, never fault-finding." Oswald Chambers

Praying for a person in the wrong, and pointing out a person who is wrong, are two different things. Make sure they become one in the same. Jesus did. You should too.