This is actually a recycled post - one of my favorites from earlier this year. (And, if you enjoy reading my previous posts, it turns out that one of them was featured on Faithful Bloggers last week. I'd be blessed if you'd read and comment on either one!)
For decades, as I've read my Bible, I've been somewhat curious about how the early Christians lived in such intimate community with one another. And, as I've been curious, I've discussed this with wiser, older Christians and they've always agreed: "yes...it is such a curiosity...such a beautiful thing...but definitely not "required" in any way...and not even feasible in our day and age and location."
Sounded reasonable to me.
Yet, it still nags at me every time I read verses like:
Acts 2:44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Acts 4:32 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.
Originally, I could buy that this was a unique period of time - that living like this today is not necessary or feasible, but still...it nagged at me. What if we've left something behind that is essential to our ability to walk faithfully in the Lord. We all say we have it now - we say that we have "family in Christ" and that our "church family is our real family" - but do we? Do we have it like that??
In my experience, we are rarely in each other's lives to an extent that we even know what needs someone might have - much less are we willing to sacrifice our lifestyle in order to meet those needs in a meaningful way. In my experience, we say we're family, but our actions say something different.
However, no matter how much I read the passages, I kept coming back to the same conclusion: not feasible...so must not be necessary.
And then this passage hit me like a ton of bricks last week:
Mark 10:28 Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” 29 Jesus said,“Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”
I have read that dozens of times before and thought, "that's so sad...because many people do leave home and parents for Jesus and they remain destitute...they seem to view it a cause worth sacrificing for, but they do lose it all for Jesus."
Only last week did I really see what Jesus was saying.
Christians should be such family (real family, not "see each other 3 times a week at the building" family, but in each other's lives loving with sacrificial love) that Jesus' statement is true.
If it's not true, do we realize that we are making Jesus a liar?
Are we willing to sacrifice (our comfort, our time, our finances) in order that those who have left homes and farms for Jesus have them (even if that means sharing our own with them)? What about taking in a brother or sister with the same love and affection we have for our natural family?
Since I have been so bold to say that we make choices that cause Jesus' statement to be untrue for many, many Christians, I'll get even more bold: we are liars.
I love you with the love of the Lord...I love you with the love of the Lord...I see in you the glory of our King and I love you with the Love of the Lord...
But through the apostle John, God says:
16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. (1 John 3)
If I love my brother with the love of the Lord - and more importantly, if I love Jesus, I will live sacrificially to make His Words true.
This is true here in the United States - where we do have brothers and sisters who are suffering for the cause of Jesus. It's equally true around the world where more Christians are persecuted for their love of Christ than we can imagine. In this day of modern technology, we are truly without excuse. We know what is happening to our brethren around the world (or we at least have reason to know), that we live in luxury (whether that is by American standards or in comparison to our brethren around the world) while they go without for the cause of Christ is to our shame.
Faith Filled Friday
Quitting Thursday Link Up