Summary: Challenging the congregation to live a life of radical reliance, in the model of the Acts 242-47 church
I am a typical Westernized American. I am the third of three children, the baby in the family so to speak in a typical, American middle-class family. From my earliest memory my parents spoiled me – not rotten to the core (at least I would like to believe), but I never went without. So much so that I never had a “Big Wheel”, but the faster, sleeker “Green Machine.” And I just didn’t have one green machine, when I broke my first, dad bought me a second… and when that one broke I think he bought me a third.
I also remember having a really cool, Schwinn banana seat Stingray bicycle. My friend Pete use to say he was envious of my bike, because it was the fastest is the neighborhood. And I use to be envious of my friends bicycles, because theirs were the early prototypes of BMX bikes, and theirs had big orange flags off the back seat. In all the bike envy in the neighborhood, nobody ever wanted to share their bike with another. I wonder why?
I think as American’s we often have the mentality that’s “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.” At least, that’s what many folks tell one another often. Now, maybe we don’t use those words, but we do like to us the words, “MINE!” No, I’m not about to share….. Go, get your own.
Has anybody ever heard anything like that before? Prior to moving here to Kellogg, we lived in Bethel’s Seminary’s “sem village.” There was a family there whose kids liked to ride all the other kid’s bikes – they never asked permission, they just took and grabbed. I remember we use to get upset about this. I guess it is because we are typical in our attitude that “what’s mine is mine, and what’s mine is not yours.” But the neighbors, they had a different ideal – what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine. I guess when we boil all things down, we like our stuff…. And our stuff is our stuff, because by golly we’ve earned it…. And yet, we need to ask, is this what God wants from us?
Open with me to the Book of Acts, Chapter 4, verses 32-37.
Can you imagine for a second the perfect utopia where nobody owned any property – that all anybody had was given freely for all to use? Many in the world, especially in the last century, after reading and contemplating this passage, however have come to that conclusion. I have often surmised, although I doubt it can be proven, that some ideological portions of socialism and communism are rooted in this text.
Lately we’ve been hearing a lot in the news about a redistribution of wealth many legislative, judicial, and executive branches of our government espouse and desire to institute – in one form of another. I am not going to stand before you today and discuss politics – because that’s not what we’re about. And yet, when our government uses sacred text to espouse Biblical values, and to incorporate those values through forced assimilation and government programs, than we need to stand up and take notice….. And if we find ourselves getting irritated, we need to ask the question – why I am getting upset – what is this cause of irritation?
Do we become irritated because we like our stuff…. And our stuff is our stuff, because by golly we’ve earned it, and don’t want to share? Or, do we become irritated because we don’t want to be forced to share? Or, maybe, is it some combination of the two?
These are good questions for us to ask – and our role as the church is to ask them? Because in the days of the early church, Rome didn’t take care of the people – the Church did! But that’s not the same case today in America. But should it be?
Let’s look at this passage again. The heart of this passage is not just about giving away all your possessions in obedience; it is about giving away your livelihood, your “world” – your flesh to the church to be used for righteousness sake. We aren’t to just give our money to the Lord, but our entire beings – our worship, mind, soul, body, gifts, talents, abilities, and life experiences. God wants everything in our life – our entire person and all that he has graciously given us.
Verse 32 says: “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.” Notice how the text stays they were of one heart and one mind. One way to translate the original language of this text is to say, “No one would claim to exist for one’s own self. The root word for one’s self is “Idios”, the Greek root where Freud came up with the “Id” in his psychological premises – the same root term we use for the words: ideology, identity, idiot, and a word so Unbiblical – Idol.