Community, Social Justice, Giving and EvangelismLast time in part 2, I talked about "A Faith Community" that I had had some dealings with. This time I'm talking about the original Cristian community.
The Acts Community
The first church in Jerusalem had community.
We are told that they held everything in common (Acts.4:32 FF).
We also read about Paul encouraging the Macedonian church to assist the church at Jerusalem who had fallen on hard times (2 Cor.9:1 FF).
In Bible College, we had one lecturer that, when he came to these verses in Acts, questioned the validity of community by saying that, if the church at Jerusalem had not tried to live communally they wouldn’t have had the problems they had latter on.
I’ve always thought that this was a bit harsh. There may be some truth in the idea but if any element of it was true then it would have only been because of their inexperience in the practical elements of communal living.
Conceptually there is no doubt in my mind that there should be a strong leaning towards community within the Christian Church. We are called to give each other our spare shirts (Lu 3:11) and the very nature of being a family requires some commitment to community (Ro 12:5). But the practice of it is much harder than the philosophy or theology for that matter.
Some things, it seems to me, the first church got right, was the fact that apparently nobody was required to sell what they had and give to the community (Acts.5:1 FF) and it would seem that everybody still lived in their own houses. In other words it is not necessary to live under the same roof and share absolutely everything in order to have community.
This obviously is the model that we should be looking to when we ask the question, "What if your church was so well off that everybody in it had no needs?".
Next time, in part 4, I'll give an outline of my own churches experience in community