As I’ve said before, we currently studying the Book of Acts together as a church. So far, we’ve studied through Chapter 5.
During the last two weeks, we’ve talked about Acts 4 and Acts 5.
Of course, at the end of chapter 4 and leading into chapter 5, there is a passage related to fellows believers caring for one another. It is a radical passage – it is an completely selfless passage. The selflessness of the passage is demonstrated by the remarkable occurrences of the first half of Acts 5.
This is part of the passage that I’m talking about:
There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. (Acts 4:34-35 ESV)
On the day of Pentecost following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the Holy Spirit descended on 120 of Jesus’ disciples. They began to proclaim Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Son of God, and they proclaimed salvation in his name.
Many repented, believed, and were baptized as a result. The Spirit drew them all into a new family bond with one another. They discovered a new kind of fellowship in the Spirit of God. This fellowship resulted in sharing everything. They shared their time and food and possessions. (Or as Tertullian supposedly said later, “We have everything in common except our spouses.”)
When a new brother or sister was in need, someone took care of that need from their own property. When someone was hungry, that person was fed. When someone needed clothing or housing, that need was met. They considered their relationships with one another as more important than their own physical well-being or their material possessions.
Today, caring for those in need is left to government agencies or parachurch organizations. Christians tend to give a little money and consider the problem shifted to others. The American Dream has replaced the concern for other Christians who are in need.
According to John in his first letter, the fellowship that we have with one another is actually fellowship with God the Father and with Jesus Christ. This fellowship is produced by the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who submit to God’s rule in their lives. Fellowship in the Spirit is marked by denying self in order to give to others.
This is not “radical” Christianity. This is fellowship resulting from the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Just think again about the result of that fellowship: “there was not a needy person among them.” Can we say that today? Could the fact that there are needy persons among us today indicate a lack of fellowship? (And, no, I’m not talking about just your “local church.”)