Simon was a Samaritan sorcerer who had exerted great influence over the people in his community by the magic he performed. But, when Philip began to preach the Gospel, the people believed and were baptized – including Simon himself. He was amazed by this new encounter with God, and followed Philip around. Then, when the apostles came and began to lay hands on people for them to receive God’s Spirit, Simon was even more impressed and he wanted to be able to do the same.
So he offered the apostles money for them to teach him. Peter was, of course, deeply offended by the offer, and rebuked Simon, who quickly repented. We all know the temptation of viewing God’s Spirit as a commodity that we can “purchase”. We are all tempted from time to time to try and find short cuts to God’s grace and blessing. We may not try to use money, but we often try to bargain with God, promising greater devotion and service if God will just give us what we want. We also fall into the trap
of trying to get God “on our side” in manipulating other people to do what we want.
Whenever we do this, we cheapen God’s grace, and we resist the deep work of transformation that God seeks to do in us. Faith is not about getting what we want, it’s about becoming who God created us to be – people whose lives manifest the justice, love and grace of God’s Reign.
It is, unfortunately, all too easy to allow our faith to become about what we can get from God. But this does not lead us to our best lives. Today, try instead to dedicate yourself to God, asking what God wants from you. Then, in every moment you can, follow God’s guidance and see how this impacts your life.
What do you want from me today, O God?