Eugene Cho

the dilemma of self-glorification

Things are going well in the movement and then suddenly, two people drop dead.  That’s the story in Acts 5:1-11 and the dramatic death narrative of Ananias and Sapphira:

“When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened… About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened…At that moment she fell down at his feet and died…”

Let me be honest and say that prior to these recent Sundays, I’ve always managed to avoid preaching on this narrative but this is one of the reasons why I’m a fan of expository teaching.  Whether we like it or not, we are occasionally confronted by such awkward, weird, and uncomfortable passages.

Most of you who were at Quest the past two Sundays have heard all the points so there’s no need to go over all of them.  If you want, you can listen to the two sermons below and subscribe to the podcasts:

Acts 4:36-5:11 | The Dilemma of Self-Glorification Part I [2/24/08]

and here’s Part II  of The Dilemma of Self-Glorification [3/2/08]

But for this blog community, this story exemplifies both harshness and grace.  It all depends on our perspective.  What happens to Ananias and Sapphira is harsh.  Period.  What happens to us is a story of grace.  Because if deception, manipulation and self-glorification is what Ananias and Sapphira are guilty of, we should all be dead.  End of sentence.  Period.  But we’re not and it is a testament of God’s grace.  Why Ananias and Sapphira are judged with physical death [not spiritual damnation] is a mystery to us as the Scriptures are unclear.  We obviously know of their sin but why them and not us.

Ananias and Sapphira saw the response that Barnabas received in Chapter 4.  They envied him; coveted the attention he was receiving and thus conspired to deceive not only the church community but God.  The difference was that Barnabas was convicted by the Holy Spirit but Ananias and Sapphira were deceived by an Unholy Spirit.

But before we applaud the judgment against Ananias and Sapphira, [if we are all honest with ourselves], we should all admit that – to a certain extent – we enjoy being liked, looked upon with respect, elevated, celebrated, etc. But if we’re not careful, we’ll sacrifice our integrity and humility to bring glory for ourselves. The reason why this hypocrisy is so much more devastating and deceiving in the church or in the Christian life is that we use the name of Jesus to bring glory – not unto Jesus but to ourselves. This is why I believe God was so harsh with Ananias and Sapphira. This is the worse hypocrisy.

All of us are susceptible.  But leaders who are visible are especially in danger.  This =  me.

And this is why the last two Sundays have been especially “good” for me.  While I hope and pray that many were blessed and convicted, I was certainly convicted.  

In small but increasing ways, Quest Church and my name is “getting out” – newspaper articles, interviews, photos, inquiries about book possibilities, teaching classes, speaking at small conferences, etc.  Coincidentally, a photographer from the Seattle PI showed up last Sunday to shoot pictures which was awkward esp. in light of the message.  [I was scared I might get struck down.]

And while this is not meant to sound arrogant, I believe that our “deeper years” are only ahead of us.  And so, I write this entry to simply confess that I need to be careful.  I don’t ever want to compromise the process for the product; to exchange Christ for celebrity; to increase so that Jesus decreases; and to allow hypocrisy to seep through my life that I can’t be honest with my shortcomings.

In short, I need Jesus.  Thank you Jesus for your mercy and grace.

Filed under: religion

5 Responses

  1. KL says:

    Eugene,
    I just appreciate your heart. I think as long as we remain honest and humble, the Lord will be honored.

  2. Peter Choi says:

    Eugene,
    after reading that, i want to take you out for a round of golf. thank you for your constant risks in being real and vulnerable. it ministers to me very much.

  3. dennis says:

    You arrogant jerk!

    Just kidding. Seriously, thank you for your honesty, Like you said, if we’re all honest, we all want to appear “more” than we are.

    Keep pressing on.

  4. justin says:

    are you considering writing a book? i have a good friend who’s an agent. she’s the wife of the pastor that married jeannie and me. anyways, we can talk more about it tonight if you want. i just didn’t want to forget.

  5. Pastor Eugene, thanks for your honesty and humility.

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One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Window seat. For the win. As leaders, we must not see ministry and family as competing commitments.  We must not sacrifice our marriage and kids for the sake of "ministry." How can we? Loving our families IS ministry & good leadership.

And on a side note, we took this goofy photo for Mother's Day last Sunday at @seattlequest. I was shocked! What in the world happened to our kids? Our 13 year old son blocked four of my shots on the basketball court yesterday. He's since been grounded... I fear that we ask God to move mountains, forgetting that God also wants to move us.

In fact, it's possible that we are that mountain. Time flies. The eldest is wrapping up her 1st year in college and the college tours have begun for the 2nd child. The youngest enters high school in the Fall. Can't say enough about how proud Minhee and I are of the kids - not just of their accomplishments but the people they are and are becoming.

But...man...we can't wait to party it up when we're emptynesters. Party at our house. It's going to be epic. Humbled. Grateful. Mindful of God's grace and faithfulness in my life. It's all grace... It's an unexpected honor to be invited back - even with some mini-drama - to @princetonseminary to receive the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award - exactly 25 years after starting my journey there as a student in 1992. Wow.

Princeton isn't necessarily for everyone. And to say that I loved everything about my experience would be misleading but it was very formative. Ir challenged me to examine why I believed in what I believed. It reminded me that God could handle my questions. It prepared me for a post-Christian context where I am not entitled to be heard but I had to earn the right to be heard, and of course, it taught me that all is good with a Philly cheese steak at Hoagie Haven.

No one is an island to themselves and I am certainly an example of that. Many people - women and men, young and old, and of many backgrounds - prayed, encouraged, mentored, and loved me along the way. Grateful for my professors at seminary, my many classmates, and the numerous fellow staff and co-laborers I've had the privilege of serving Christ with past and present. And of course, I'm forever inspired by my parents, my children, and my wife, Minhee. Thank you for your faith, hope, and love...and oh, for your patience. Only your family will know and see both the best and worst of you. They've seen my worst...and keep on believing in me.

Thank you again, PTS and President Barnes, for this honor. Then, today, and tomorrow...by God's grace, just striving to be faithful to my Lord and Savior...to preach and live out the convictions of the whole Gospel. Amen. So humbled and grateful to be with @catalystleader in Cincinnati to encourage leaders from all around the country about the invitation to Uncommon Fellowship.

Preached from John 4. We can talk, preach, sing, philsophize, liturgize, and spit rhymes about Samaria...but we still have to talk through Samaria.

my tweets

  • "They got money for wars but can't feed the poor." ~ Tupac #trumpbudget || 18 hours ago
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  • As leaders, we must not sacrifice our family for the sake of ministry because loving our family IS good leadership: instagram.com/p/BUVAGVwg-5z/ || 4 days ago
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