Hello and welcome to Tuesday’s podcast. Today’s passage continues to tell the incredible picture of how the Jesus movement began. I don’t know about you but I find that when I read verses like these I am immensely impressed and challenged by the things the early believers said and did. A group of ordinary people, impacted by God & being radically generous with every part of their lives. This is the kind of church I want to be in!
Let me read the first 4 verses from today’s reading now before we consider what God might be saying to us:
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
I remember when I was a student starting second year of University. I just moved into my first house after halls. We had to sort out bills, especially sorting out the internet provider as quickly as possible. I definitely felt pretty grown up. A friend of mine in the year above had also moved into a new house. Now unfortunately, in that whole moving-in-season, you might be aware but crime spikes… If you are a student listening in today – do take extra care – Now my friend got broken into and had her laptop stolen. She was gutted. We normally prayed together on a Wednesday evening and someone had the bright idea of us doing a whip around to give her a generous gift towards a new laptop. There was about 20 of us praying and all of a sudden it didn’t take much and we were able to surprise her in her moment of need. It felt like a small thing at the time but it has stayed with me all these years. It was one of the first occasions I had been a part of an unmerited act of generosity. A gift that wasn’t necessarily earned but of considerable blessing to the receiver. I had given at church before and that is a right thing to do. We’ve talked about tithes and offerings before… this one was generosity in the face of evil and because of the goodness of God. It was something the early church did too!
All believers were one in heart and mind.
Firstly, we are told the believers were united in their cause, “one in heart and mind”. Its a powerful thing when head connects with heart. When my sister in christ had her laptop stolen – I kinda felt like someone had stolen something from me. She might have had more of a connection with the item but many of us where angry at the action that had taken place. Then our reaction led to action – we felt like we had to do something about it.
Thinking about these Bible verses today I am reminded that these communities of heart and mind are exactly what we hope our clusters will become. We often use a little phrase about clusters that goes like this: “small enough to care & large enough to dare”. In a very similar way to the early followers of Jesus, we are hoping to be a people of one heart and of one mind, connected together in our adventure of following Jesus and responding to the needs of those around us.
But it says: They shared everything they had.
Everything. Does it really mean that? It would be easier to read this sentence as they shared some of the things that they had, or they shared the surplus after what they needed. But the original writing does not say that. We are led to believe that this group of believers experimented with the common life. If Jeff had a lawnmower, Brenda could use it. If Harold didn’t have enough money to buy some new work clothes, I guess the community would pitch in.
I didn’t have much as a student… I got the full allowance when I started Uni – maintenance loans and bursary if that still means anything these days. But this moment was probably one of the first moments I began to see that everything is God’s anyway. That it is we might be made to be generous.
It even says: God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.
How incredible is that? These people had learned to bear one another’s burdens and share one another’s joys.
How radical a community and yet they still outwardly expressed a missional zeal through the Holy spirit and with great power they continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
‘This is a really important note to end our reflection on today. Because they had really began to love one another, but they balanced becoming inward focussed with an outward vision. They continued to tell others about Jesus. I’m so thankful for our church, because in the years I have been part of it, that is one of the main things I have been learning. How to do community well and still look for opportunities to tell more people about Jesus.
God, teach us to be generous. Teach us how we can bear one another burdens and to share in one another joys. And keep us outward focussed. In Jesus name, Amen.
READING: Acts 4:32-37
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there was no needy person among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.