Psalm 2 starts out wondering why the nations rage and the kings of the earth plot against the Lord and his anointed. The reason is that God’s way and the worlds ways are in conflict and the salvation won for us is a scandal and stumbling block. In many ways the church ahs been scandalized by the Gospel too. We are always in danger of losing our way. Micheal Horton wrote in the “American Captivity of the Church” these fascinating and frightening words
“Wherever Christ is truly and clearly being proclaimed, Satan is most actively present in opposition. The wars between the nations and enmity within families and neighborhoods is but the wake of the serpent’s tail as he seeks to devour the church. Yet even in this pursuit, he is more subtle than we imagine. He lulls us to sleep as we trim our message to the banality of popular culture and invoke Christ’s name for anything and everything but salvation from the coming judgment. While undoubtedly stirring his earthly disciples to persecute and kill followers of Christ (with more martyrdoms worldwide in an average year now than in any previous era), Satan knows from experience that sowing heresy and schism is far more effective. While the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, the assimilation of the church to the world silences the witness.”
One more time with Hauerwas and Willimon and the story of Ananias and Sapphira.
So the story drives us, as pastors, back to the basic, communal, social, ethical question: What sort of church would we need to be to be half as truthful as Acts 5? This is what the church’s leaders do when they are being faithful to their vocation: Pastors orient the church toward God. Turning people toward God is, as Acts 5 shows, a terrifying task. The congregation may burst forth in exuberant spirit (Acts 2) or they may drop dead of fear (Acts 5). Yet this is what the church needs leaders for.