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There was not a needy person among them

Posted by on Jun 10, 2011 in fellowship | 5 comments

There was not a needy person among them

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.”)


5 Comments

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  1. 6-10-2011

    I wonder what it would look like if the church really gave to those in need. I suspect there would be fewer mega-churches with multi-million dollar campuses.

  2. 6-10-2011

    Very profound. There is so much that the Bible sees as normal that we have a hard time with culturally. We see it as radical, dangerous even, but it is just how the church functioned in the earliest days.

  3. 6-10-2011

    Alan,

    Your post reminded me of the words of Scot Bartchy being interviewed by Kieth Giles:

    Giles writes: ‘As Bartchy speaks, the chasm between the faith of the
    early church and that of the modern church begins to grow
    wider and wider. “None of the current signs of success in the
    modern church can be found in the New Testament. When the
    people laid their offerings at the disciples feet it wasn’t so that
    they could build a bigger building or give the disciples a salary
    increase.” ‘

  4. 6-10-2011

    Fred,

    I think that your suspicions would be proven correct.

    Arthur,

    When we see the normal life of following Christ as radical, it shows just how far we are away from him.

    Aussie John,

    Great quote! Thank you!

    -Alan

  5. 6-14-2011

    I wish this did not resonate so much.

    The church I used to attend, ( I was even on staff for years) made the decision to limit their “benevelonce interviews” because it was cutting into their time doing “ministry work” too much.

    The fact that people in need even have to go to the offices, fill out an application and be interviewed is an issue in itself. But when the need becomes so great that the staff limits how many times a week they are willing to hear about it because it is cutting into their productivity; well, it just hurts my heart.

    We are supposed to be about our Fathers business. What exactly is His business? Is it creating really cool trendy programs or is it being the hands and feet of Jesus?

    I love the book of Acts and that is the church I want to be a part of….let His Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven!

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