32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need. 36 Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), 37 and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
The community church that we attend here in Guatemala is very similar to this. They distribute what they have as best as possible to make sure nobody that they know of is with need. They do their best to support one another and instead of living like an organization with a bunch of members, they live like a family. Why can’t we do this in the U.S.? Our individualism and materialism has gotten the best of us. Now, this certainly isn’t to make anyone feel guilty about what you have, but if you do feel guilty, maybe you should assess what you have, why you have it, and how you could better use it for the lives of others. Let’s look at the result of living in community like this.
With great power the apostles were giving testimony. Why don’t we have powerful churches in the U.S.? (By powerful, I don’t mean mega churches with political sway, I mean powerful in the Holy Spirit causing lasting change for God’s Kingdom). Because we don’t live in community! We live in a 9-5 church life where we compartmentalize our spiritual growth and spiritual relationships. Our communion with other believers is more about completing what is on our agenda so we can move onto the next thing instead of wholly surrendering to the Holy Spirit and being united by Him. We separate our secular lives with our sacred instead of living sacred lives every moment. Instead of constantly living for those around us we live for ourselves and give our extras to those around us instead of giving our all.
It’s amazing to me as I learn more about the culture here how selfish we have become as Americans. If there are tools or a material lying around being unused and someone needs it, they will take it and use it, usually without asking. This frustrates me and then I realize that it isn’t about someone being greedy or unthoughtful, it’s that we are expected to live in community and be ok with that. Why wouldn’t I let someone borrow my tools or use my scraps I have laying around? If we are united in the one heart and soul of Christ, our testimony will be with great power. Isn’t this what we say we want?
Our pride often gets in the way of this. We will be reading about the consequences of this in the next chapter, but aside from having difficulty in letting go of our stuff and giving it to others, we have an even bigger issue with asking. We have such a problem with admitting that we have need. We would rather go without, suffer, and weaken ourselves just because our pride prevents us from asking for help. Friends it is not our going without that weakens us it is our pride. I can go without food for a couple days and still be empowered by the Holy Spirit to do great things, but if my heart is poisoned with pride, I might as well shrivel up and die because I am useless in the Kingdom of God.
As the body of Christ, while we might all be different members, we are all of the same body. If the foot is struggling, the hands will do what they can to help, the other foot will work harder for a time until the bad one heals, and the mind will work to find a solution so that the foot can heal to max effectiveness once more. We aren’t very good at working for max efficiency as the body of Christ. Our mindset has become one of, “well, I’m doing my part, why aren’t you doing yours?” Instead of, “how can I help you do yours better?” We are a family for living and a team for working. We are to support one another with our lives and do what we can until the job is complete, regardless of our position.
How can you better live in community?