Early Christian Communalism (Acts 4:32-37)
Jul 06, 2010 by Craig Blomberg | 0 Comments
“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.” (vv. 33b-35, TNIV)
It’s tragic how unwilling to work together for the good of the people the two political parties in this country are at the moment. It’s downright shameful when Christians on the right or on the left show no difference in their rhetoric or behavior from the politicians.
The earliest church in Jerusalem had its problems. But concern for the needy was not one of them. Centuries later, this passage, combined with Acts 11:29, would inspire Karl Marx’s manifesto: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” It is debatable whether or not Marx gutted the heart of the model when he tried to legislate it, rather than allowing it to remain voluntary. But clearly he eviscerated it of its power when he tried to remove God from the model altogether.
Before we stop working for good legislation, we must remember that the federal government expends dozens of times the amount of money on the needy every year than all churches and parachurch organizations put together. There is little sign that Christians are prepared to pick up that much slack. But churches and believers must find ways to do much, much more than we are currently doing. If our ministry of proclamation is not to keep on meeting with the widespread cynicism it currently receives in our culture, our ministry of compassion will have to multiply considerably.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).