It was every little boys dream.
I remember sitting riveted to my television screen, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I suddenly knew what I wanted to do with my life.
The year was 1994. I was nine years old and I had just witness the greatest thing ever.
I was envious of Preston. He had the life. A house, a pool, a slide, and a race track. How could life get any better?
One simple accident had transformed his life.
And I wanted it.
Don’t believe me?
Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God,they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”
After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages. Acts 8:9-25
Simon, like Preston, and like myself, had a misunderstanding about what money could buy. I thought money could solve my problems, much like Preston did in the movie. Simon thought money could buy him power, prestige, and influence in the Kingdom of God. Simon wanted in, and was willing to write a blank check so that he could have the power.
Simon’s great mistake lies in arrogance and pride. His assumption was that the Kingdom could be influenced just like the world: through flashy displays, wealth, and in selfish gain.
Peter calls Simon ‘bitter’ a word that gets paired with anger and oppression.
Simon was angry that he was missing out. His power and influence was gone, and he wanted back in.
His fifteen minutes of fame were up and he didn’t like it. He was bitter, angry, frustrated, and his motives weren’t pure. He wanted to be in power because he like the power and fear he generated in people by oppressing them. Unwilling to lead through service and humility, he wanted to do anything he could to get his status back.
That’s often the way earthly powers work. They thrive on the status quo. On power. On those in power, staying in power. On monetary influence and superficial success.
And too often, the church has bought in.
Instead, may we, like Peter, see through the superficiality and stand in the movement of God’s spirit that leads us to free the oppressed and reject worldly standards of leadership and success.