And all who believed were together and had all things in common. – Acts 2:44
After Wednesday’s statement regarding the importance of community, I began to think about a very special time in my life. For a little over a year, I had the privilege of living alongside an incredible group of people. I suppose I could call it an unintentional commune of sorts. That time forever changed my perspective on what the church is.
As I began to walk down memory lane, words flooded my mind.
They had all things in common.
Only the context had shifted the meaning for me. For a moment, I’d like you to return to the passage at the top of this page. Read it and take a moment to think about what it means to you.
Have you done it?
If you are anything like I was, your first thoughts will probably include Acts 2:45. It reads, “And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” For me, this verse has always been tied to a material social justice and self sacrifice for the benefit of those in need. I’ve always seen and used it in the context of “living simply so others may simply live”. I still believe there is truth to that, but as I’ve recalled my time in Waynoka Cove I have come to realize that if that is all we take from “had all things in common“, then we have come away with far too little.
“The Cove” as we called it, was simply a group of neighbors and friends who shared a common faith and who chose to share our lives as well. And sharing our lives went far beyond just sharing our resources, though it wasn’t uncommon for us to do so. That is the key point I want to try to convey about having all things in common. Life together is bigger than the sharing of material wealth, and I think Acts 2, if we look beyond vs. 44-45 supports this idea.
“And day by day, attending the temple together…”
Life together is a life of shared worship. While some of us did attend the same local congregation, not all of us shared that bond. Only once, on a very cold and snow covered weekend did we hold a church service in our apartment. I won’t go into detail, but I remember that weekend with fondness and longing. We did however worship together in our daily lives. What I remember most is that God was on our lips. We would discuss books and theology. We would pray for one another. We would occasionally sing together. I don’t mean that it was a constant everyday thing, but it was a very real and consistent part of our lives.
“and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.”
I think maybe food is one of the glues that hold society together. There is an incredible joy to be had in sharing food with family and friends. And food shared with gratitude to one another and to God is a profound gift.
“praising God and having favor with all the people.”
We were very fortunate to connect with neighbors and friends as a result of each individuals gifts and connections. I remember Gary who would drop in on me and my roommate for what sometimes turned into deep conversations about life and God. Knowing that at some point he’d exclaim, “Man, you a ****ing scientist!” I remember the Sudanese boys who would come to see Pete after school. They were bonded to him by the years he ministered to them at Neighborhood School, but they were just as much my friends as his and we served them together. We snacked, played basketball and worked in the garden together. I remember standing outside Jorge’s apartment with Jorge, Pete, Andrew and a three foot tall tin knight as Andrew serenaded Jenny, Jorge’s wife on their anniversary. A throwback to a Colombian tradition to have mariachis serenade your fiancee before the wedding. What was traditionally one day, Jorge had turned into a week.
When I think back on those days, I smile and I am filled with joy. Don’t get me wrong, things were not always happy. We didn’t always get along. We didn’t always serve one another well. And that is part of sharing life as well. But I think, in the end, that maybe we got to experience Christian community in a way that would benefit us all. A community that bonded us. One I feel bonds us even now. We “had all things in common”, and far more than just possessions.
It’s something to consider.