“Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.
With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold.
They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” – Acts 4:32-35
The first Christians were socialists. There’s just no denying it. If we were to place a modern political label on the lifestyle of the early Christian communities we read about in the Acts of the Apostles, we would likely call them socialists. They claimed no private ownership, sold their homes and possessions, and even redistributed the proceeds to those in need. Now, I’m only speaking for myself, but that makes me very uncomfortable. After all, haven’t we seen Doctor Zhivago?
Before we write off these early Christ followers as irrelevant, unamerican, or even communists, let’s first consider their times. These Christians believed Jesus was coming back during their own lifetimes. They had little concern for building portfolios or attaining status in a world that was about to be forever altered by the coming of God’s Kingdom. They lived in the moment, in community with one another, with no worries about what the next day would bring. Eventually, Christians began to discern that Christ’s return was not as imminent and they had once thought and began to adjust their radical communal teachings.
But were the early Christians all that radical? Let’s try another word: intentional. The early Christians were intentional about giving of their personal blessings for the advancement of God’s work on earth in and through the church, to reach the lost and care for those in need. Now, when we put it that way, it becomes much less scary.
How might we become more intentional with our own resources today? Do we have too much of some things that could be used by God to bless others? Are there things we can share with one another? I recently heard of a few Christian neighbors who decided to share the cost and maintenance of the same lawnmower, so they would more resources to give away. When we give to our church, a portion of those resources are immediately redistributed to care for those in need and share the gospel with those all around the world. In many ways, we already hold many things in common. May we allow the Holy Spirit to move us to hold our “stuff” loosely. After all, God is the giver of all good things. Everything we think is ours is already his.