"The longest distance between two points is a shortcut." John Maxwell
The Book of The Acts of The Apostles tells a cautionary tale about a man named Simon. He was known in the town as a sorcerer. He performed amazing feats for the people and they rewarded him with money, fame and awe.
It's not clear where Simon learned his tricks, but he had a profitable racket in Samaria, the northern part of Israel. His business took a downturn when the Disciple, Philip, brought the gospel (the good news) of salvation through Jesus Christ to his hometown. Many turned toward God and away from Simon. It's hard to spot a fake in isolation, but people can sniff one out when presented with the real article.
Not to be deterred, Simon didn't complain. He joined the movement! The sorcerer pledged a newfound faith in Christ and was baptized alongside his former customers.
If you can't beat them ...
I'm sure people looked at Simon askance, but from the Biblical record, it looks like he was given the benefit of the doubt and accepted among the believers - for a while. The rub came when Simon Peter and John (the disciples) came to town. The men laid hands on the new believers and prayed that they would receive the Holy Spirit of God.
It's not clear what the physical manifestation of the laying of hands brought about, if any, but Simon immediately jumped on it. He took out his stash and offered the disciples money if they they could just show him how to do their magic trick. "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit," he exclaimed.
Simon Peter responded with an exclamation of his own: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!" So ended Simon's brief career in the ministry.
What can we learn from Simon? Many things. One is the subject of this post: Beware shortcuts. They almost never work, frequently take longer than putting in hard work, and can cause your business, relationships or even your faith to suffer.
I'm not talking about clever keyboard shortcuts and useful ideas to boost productivity. I'm talking about the kind of shortcut sought by Simon. It's the lazy man's shortcut. It cries out, "Sell me the power. I don't want to put in the time of patient study, faith, travail and humility of being a disciple." It's success without sacrifice.
This attitude is prevalent in our society. It seems everyone wants to be instantly famous, whether in the world of faith or otherwise. Put up a few social media posts and Bam! You're the next big thing.
Simon had seen enough to believe that he was seeing the future; the self-driving cars of his day. There was no time to wait around. He had a fat wallet and he was ready to make a deal.
Money was his shortcut. But some things are not for sale.
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