Window Reflection: Week Two of Easter
By Randall Rider | April 8, 2018
Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. - Acts 4:32-34
Acts paints a picture of the earliest days of Christianity after the resurrection of our Lord. Before departing them, Jesus had commanded the apostles to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We are told Peter addressed a crowd of 120 believers while waiting. Three thousand more came to believe on the day of Pentecost. By Acts 4, we are told 5,000 came to believe by the apostles’ teaching, which resulted in Peter and John’s arrest for preaching Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
The Christian community was growing quickly, resulting in annoyance and persecution. Soon they would learn of the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen dying for the faith. Their faith. Our faith. We are told, “…the whole group who believed were of one heart and one soul.” They were united. I suspect they had no choice to be otherwise. They needed to do things. They needed to survive among a dominant religious culture and a government, neither of which cared much for their existence. And, they needed to follow the Way, to carry forward their common cause of Christ. It was important they let nothing divide them.
We are told a great grace was upon them. No one claimed ownership of anything, but everything was shared so there was no person among them that didn’t have enough. We are not told they were commanded to do this, nor does the text command us to do it. I suspect they wanted to. I suspect they knew it was important to stay united to keep the movement alive and to await the coming of the Lord. When I pray, “…Give us this day our daily bread,” I think about having enough. Enough to eat. Enough to wear. Enough to stay warm and sheltered. Enough people to love. Enough people to love me. We don’t need abundance, but we need enough. The early Christian community made sure everyone had enough. It made sure the community remained strong – strong enough to carry forward their common cause of Christ. Let us also be united in Christian community, joining the early church and all the saints in using our abundance to carry forward our common cause in Christ Jesus.
Prayer: Almighty God whose loving hand has given us all that we possess: Grant us grace that we may honor you with our substance, and remembering the account which we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of your bounty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.