All scripture is from the ESV translation unless otherwise noted.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Biblical Community

Acts 4:32-35
32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 

At first this passage inspired me, seeing what true community looked like in the lives of the first Christians, but the more I thought about it the more it just upset me. Friends, what happened to this? The lives of the apostles modeled so well the latter of what Jesus said were the two greatest commandments - you shall love your neighbor as yourself. If you analyze your life and see that you tend to lean more towards your desires than the needs of others, you are disobeying Jesus. Real talk. This is an area where our society has missed the mark, and it deeply concerns me. Contemporary Christian community is so different from Biblical Christian community, and where we have strayed from scripture, we are wrong. Christian community shouldn’t be sitting around the fireplace sipping tea with your best friends, but selling all your teapots to provide for those who are in need and then inviting them to be in community with you. Is this radical? Yes. Is it too radical? Not at all. In fact, it’s biblical.

Don’t try and rationalize this with “the times were different then… that’s not really necessary now.” That’s suggesting that it was necessary then. It was never necessary, but they did it because the loved Jesus and desired nothing more than to follow him and obey his commandments.

Don’t try and rationalize this with “the times were different then… I’d be socially rejected judged if I lived like this now”. Please, read the excerpt below. It’s from writings from a man named Lucian of Samosata (written around 150 A.D.). This is his reaction to the way the first Christians lived.

"The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.  All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property."

Oh, you will be socially rejected and judged, but it will be no different than what the apostles went through. It begs this question, if the community you’re in doesn’t get this reaction, is it biblical? Perhaps many aspects of the way you live with your fellow brothers and sisters is biblical, but in all the churches and communities I’ve interacted with in my life, very few have come close to getting this right. Do people look at your church and community and ask, “why do these people love others so much, and care so little of themselves? How can they hate the goods of the world so much? It's weird.”? If you’re answer was no, then y’all have missed it. Y’all have strayed from the scriptures. I fear we all have. Adherence to scripture will evoke this response from onlookers to whom God has not revealed himself.  They should think that the way we lives our lives is weird, because it shouldn't look like anything that they have ever seen! We must not settle for biblical mediocrity. We cannot think for a second that God is okay with us following just the majority of the Bible. We must settle for nothing less than a 100% secured devotion to God’s word, in our own lives AND in our communities.

The verse below is one that is often belittled/ignored nowadays. It is beyond me why/how we can ignore it, or any scripture for that matter.

1 John 3:16-18
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Teach us how to live together the way you would desire. Let us not read your Word and only accept parts of it, but read it and accept that there are parts where we have strayed and know that we must strive to get back on your path. We love you utterly and completely.
Your Children