“32 Now the large group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one said that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common. 33 And the apostles were giving testimony with great power to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on all of them.
34 For there was not a needy person among them, because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles feet. This was then distributed for each persons basic needs.
36 Joseph, a Levite and a Cypriot by birth, the one the apostles called Barnabas, which is translated Son of Encouragement, 37 sold a field he owned, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles feet.”
There are apartments all around the building where my church family gathers. I have this romantic notion of slowly having all of us move into those apartments, selling off our homes and our ‘extras’ and sharing life together more closely. We could all share dinners in the Family Life Center/Gym a few times during the week, help each other’s children with their homework and mimic what we find here in Acts 4: the common life.
Part of me knows that I am also longing for what we will have together in heaven, and that a community living like this would have to ‘have much grace’ in everything they did because living in such close proximity to one another would require it. But there is a closeness, a dedication, that I’m longing for that is difficult to maintain when everyone is scattered all over the place. There would be issues to deal with. People are people and don’t always get along. We have bad days. But that’s what grace is for, right? It wouldn’t always be easy. On the positive side, a scattered church is a church with a greater range of opportunity to impact lives and communities.
Would people whisper about us? Surely. Would they call us crazy or cultists? More than likely. But I cannot deny that desire I have to see the church living like we see here in Acts. People choosing not to spend all their money on themselves, but instead, they live only on what they truly need, giving the rest to see that people are cared for, shown love, mercy and compassion. I long for this community that wants to see justice done, the widow and orphan cared for and the poor lifted up. A community that knows what it means to truly die to self and give of self, rather than be so invested in some customized version of ‘the American Dream.’
There is something missing in how we live, and I can’t help but think that it has something to do with this separation we all have during the week. It goes beyond small groups and service projects, it’s more than bible studies and fellowship meals. It may really be that I am simply longing for heaven, and if I am, that’s fine. But if that’s the case, then something on this side of eternity is always going to be missing for me.
As we GoLove others in the Name of Christ, we are drawing them towards a community that cares for one another, and not in a half-hearted way, but in a sacrificial way. We are agreeing to put the needs of others above our own wants and desires, replacing our perceived entitlements with sacrifices and generosity. We should be a people that sees need and meets the need, a people who truly care about one another. This is the heart of Christ in us.