A Focus on Community
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” (Acts 4:32-35)
This snapshot of the first century church haunts me. It’s absolutely convicting. And while this picture of beautiful community couldn’t be any clearer, I’m able to admit that we as a modern American church are very far from looking like this. The body of believers being referred to in Acts lived in a very different time than we do. They faced some trials that we will never know, and because they believed in Jesus’s dominion and resurrection they were outsiders in the cities and towns that their families had been part of for generations. Deep, sacrificial community was vital to their survival, and they found it in their fellow believers. But, they faced some similar things as we do today. They dealt with family problems; they knew the deep grief that comes from broken relationships and death; they knew sickness and injury; they faced hunger and the absence of basic daily needs. They dealt with temptation, anger, jealousy, worry, slander, greed, and every other evil that exists because we live in a broken world. They lost sight of who they were supposed to be in the world and the relationship they were to have with the Creator. Through all of these struggles, confusions and hurts they found support and solace in each other. I remember bringing this scripture up in Bible class as a teenager and asking why we don’t live this way. I was told very directly that this is just a pipe dream, and that this kind of community could never exist in today’s world. I didn’t agree then, and I still don’t agree today. God’s designs never go out of style, and his perfection doesn’t lose effectiveness. It would certainly look different today, but we have the opportunity to be intimately communal with each other. As individuals we are all broken. Each one of us is unable to fully understand or show God’s love on our own. He has given us each other as a gift, so you can help me see where I have blind spots, and I can do the same for you. In God’s amazing design, he decided that when you sew a group of broken people together with his love and grace, a beautiful, brand new being is created. And when we’re committed to filling the cracks of one another’s brokenness, we are strong beyond our own power. Each of us has talents, skills, and abilities that compliment the other parts of the body. Too often we think of our “church” talents and skills as the only things we have to offer, but we are much more than what we can do on Sundays! We each have been specifically designed and hand-crafted by our Creator to do all kinds of things that can help others. If we are not living our lives together and for each other, we will never achieve the glory God has planned for his kingdom. The first church lived lives that were full of deep relationship, pouring themselves into each other at every turn. They trusted that their investments in each other would be used by God to His glory. They didn’t wait until potluck Sunday to break bread together. They were already going to eat meals every day, so they chose to do it together. They understood that their lives as God followers were most successfully lived when they did it together, the way God intended. The topic for this blog was chosen more than two months ago, so we had no idea just how perfectly the subject would fit into our current situation. In this time of social distancing and quarantine, the other pieces of the body need you. They need words of encouragement, they need prayers. Some desperately need financial help and are scared or embarrassed to ask for it. This is a time to commit yourself on a deeper level to the people of God’s body. Who will you support this week spiritually, emotionally, or financially? How will you show your appreciation to Jesus by being what he has called you to be as an active part of his body?