32 The community of believers was one in heart and mind. None of them would say, “This is mine!” about any of their possessions, but held everything in common. 33 The apostles continued to bear powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and an abundance of grace was at work among them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. Those who owned properties or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds from the sales, 35 and place them in the care and under the authority of the apostles. Then it was distributed to anyone who was in need.
One of a young child’s favorite words is nearly always “mine.” We learn from a young age about the concept of ownership. We like having our own stuff! As I get things set up in a new place, I feel that keenly – the notion of “my” space, and “my” things, which provide a sense of comfort and stability. This is no small thing for us, emotionally or spiritually.
Reading this passage, then, is a jolt – a shock to the system. Am I doing something wrong?
The early Christians – at least that very small group that was the most committed to following Jesus – chose to live a different way. They shared a communal life where there wasn’t a notion of “mine” and “yours.” For them, there was only “ours.”
To live in such a community requires a radical willingness to place others before ourselves, and an intense trust that in doing so, our needs will not go unmet. This is incredibly difficult. Clearly, every community is not capable of this – because not every individual is capable of this (most of us aren’t). Sects which have attempted to re-create it have generally been short-lived.
So is it impractical? In many ways, yes. But does it represent a way of approaching our own stuff that is helpful for us spiritually? Absolutely. We might not be able to radically share everything in a Christian community. But we can most certainly learn to hold what we have a bit less tightly, so that our resources can serve others who need them most.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
We get a chuckle from toddlers who are so committed to the concept of “mine” that they can’t share toys, and we offer them gentle correction. How might God be offering you correction through these words today? Is there something you’ve been clinging to just a bit too tightly?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to recognize that all we have is a gift from you. Help us to hold our things a bit more loosely, so that we can help where we are able and freely share with those in need. Amen.