There are so many “isms” in our world today, behind which people throw their loyalty; promoting them in the public square. It is nothing new that syncretism has occurred in the Christian faith when these secular philosophies or systems are forced-melded to biblical truth.
Think of how many have used the Bible to promote communism, socialism or even humanism, leading to a profaned Christianity and blasphemy.
There’s a verse that has often been drawn into the fray for such attempts. It’s found in the book of Acts, chapter two, verses 44 and 45.
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
I’ve seen believers, even without the “isms,” struggle with this passage; trying to figure out how to live in a first-century-church kind of way. That’s when the Holy Spirit pricked my mind through the words of a fresh, young pastor named Keith.
The early church was not about communism or socialism, but common-ism.
Those initial days after Pentecost were crazy! People were coming to Jesus faster than you could say “Praise the Lord!” It was an unusual situation too, because they were from all around the known world. They’d been in Jerusalem for the feast, traveling for days or months. No one intended to stay so long, but when the Holy Spirit came down on that first day, no one wanted to leave.
There was one problem — they hadn’t packed for such an extended visit. Yet, in the days that followed, they were too busy devoting themselves “to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer”* to think about leaving anytime soon. That’s when the common-ism kicked in.
The church became the church as they grew in faith together and grew in service to each another. They didn’t do this forever, but they did do it as long as there was need. Eventually, the travelers would go home, taking their new faith and increased understanding of scriptures with them. The believers still left in Jerusalem and surrounding areas had to get back to work and life. The need for selling possessions and goods subsided, because the demand was gone.
Just because that initial outpouring waned, common-ism didn’t end for the Church. You’ve seen it. I sure have.
Actually, I saw it this week. A friend from a local church shared with me a need for an immigrant mother expecting twins. Did I know of a way to get her help with two cribs, car seats and strollers?
Did I? Sure — throw it out there to the Church — via Facebook. Within a matter of minutes I had an answer. A believer from an entirely different church said she’d been looking for a way to celebrate Christmas by helping others. She would provide for ALL the woman’s needs.
If that’s not common-ism, I don’t know what is!
Nothing has really changed in over 2,000 years. The church meets the needs of her members. When one suffers, all suffer. When one rejoices, all rejoice. When one has a need, all provide. It’s not my stuff to give, anyway; it’s God’s.
To know the needs of others, we need to know each other. May God open our eyes to see those within our midst in need. May we give freely, that he may bless both the recipient and the giver.
Grace and Peace
Acts 2:42 (NIV).