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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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

#mountrainier
#seattle
#northwestisbest

my tweets

  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 2 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 2 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 2 days ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 5 days ago
  • Father, bless these Iraqi and Syrian refugee children that have already endured so much. As we pray, teach us how t… twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 6 days ago
  • Pray for Iraq. Pray for persecuted Church, minority groups (Yezidis) and Muslims alike who are suffering under ISIS: instagram.com/p/BZF2j6Ngrna/ || 6 days ago