28.9.11

One heart and soul - Jesus Army Life

What was it that motivated the first Christians to share everything?

I don't think it was an idealistic vision to be one, neither do I feel that there was some utilitarian economic mission. When I read about the first Christians it strikes me that it was simply something they had to do, as if nothing else would be satisfactory.

Imagine it. The Holy Spirit fills you and your friends with God's powerful life. Wouldn't you want to keep meeting together as much as possible?

If God gave you a sense of his love for mankind - his desire to be close to them - the nearness of his heart. Wouldn't that make you want to love others as fully as you could?

Bird Houses / 20071230.10D.46705 / SML
"...and the birds perched in its branches"
(Bird houses by See-ming Lee)
Yes, there were practical reasons: not everyone was from Jerusalem and, if they were going to stick around, they'd need a bed. There was vision: Jesus had been with them everyday, sharing in the same common purse. But the temptation, even after Jesus had overcome death itself, was to give up - Peter returned to his day job. And, while there were 500 witnesses to Jesus' resurrection, only 120 were gathering at the prayer meetings. I get the sense that no one knew what to do next.

It was the compelling power of the Holy Spirit that caused the first Christians to come together as a church everyday, eating together in awe of God, sacrificially contributing so that the church could continue its current lifestyle.And it was successful, the numbers involved in sharing increased, so much so that they had to appoint seven men to look after the food distribution (one for every day of the week?)

But what now? I don't get the sense that Christians felt it was mandatory to live together. The idea seemed to tail off outside Jerusalem, though there was still a notable desire for believers to live under the same roof and not keep money selfishly to themselves.

Yet surely today, community still needs to be under the compulsion of the Holy Spirit? The drive to share needs to come from within. It needs to be something that God does.

I'm mindful of how the Bible tells us that the first people on earth desired to build a place which would help them always be one (Genesis 11). God saw it and knew that there could be no right oneness on earth without him - he confused their language and scattered them. But when God eventually gave a spiritual tongue that all men could speak (Acts 2:8), they were drawn together, their heart was for him and not for themselves.

I think that always needs to be the foundation for community - a desire for God that unites many individuals in his one life. Without it, I'd be reluctant to try.