44 All the believers were united and shared everything. 45 They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. 46 Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. 47 They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.
In early Christianity, community was everything. People cared for each other – not only spiritually but materially as well. The Church as described in the early chapters of the book of Acts looks a lot more like a commune than most of us care to admit. It’s unclear how long this period of the Church’s development lasted or how widespread it actually was. It strikes me that whenever such movements have occurred within the community of faith, they’ve been limited both in their duration and in their appeal. Most of us, if we’re honest, aren’t all that comfortable with such radical sharing.
This isn’t just true from an economic standpoint. It’s also true from an emotional and spiritual standpoint. Radical openness requires a tremendous amount of trust. Most of us just can’t sustain that level of trust with more than a few members of our immediate family – and even that is both rare and difficult.
So there must have been something truly remarkable happening in that Acts church. One might even say, something miraculous. And that’s the point. People need to be touched by the Holy Spirit in order to live this way.
The Spirit leads us beyond fear, beyond our self-imposed limits on trust, toward a love that allows us to embrace and be embraced by others. The blessings of the Spirit are humility, simplicity, joy, trust, and love. These values are at the heart of the Church, and they flow from the Spirit.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Of the key characteristics of early believers we see in today’s scripture: humility, simplicity, joy, trust, and love, which do you struggle with the most? Can you identify reasons why that one might be difficult for you? Take what you learn to God in prayer and ask for wisdom about how you might grow in your practice of that particular value.
Prayer: Holy One, Holy Three, we know that you have made us for relationships. And yet, our lack of trust often holds us back from experiencing true community: the love and care and sharing that mark authentic experiences of your Presence. Today, let your Spirit be at work in us to open our hearts and bring us to a place of deeper trust in you and those with whom we share our lives. Amen.
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