Yesterday, we read this:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 ESV)
Yesterday we focused on the first two practices: Devotion to the Apostles’ Teaching and Fellowship, and the Breaking of the Bread. Today we’ll look into the other two:
Their community started this way at Jesus’ command: wait and pray for the Holy Spirit. They had a big mission, to spread his good news worldwide, and would need the Holy Spirit to make it possible. Their continued existence would require prayer, especially as they faced persecution and alienation.
Their Jewish tradition of temple worship and sacrifices for individual sin was transformed into Christian prayer in the temple. All Acts says here is that they were attending the temple. It says nothing about them continuing the sacrifices, and it seems likely they would have no more sacrifices, since Jesus was descrbied in the Book of Hebrews as the ultimate sacrifice for sin. No evidence they participated in the sacrifices, but they seem to have prayed there, which was incredibly bold and dangerous.
They had all things in common. That could mean a lot of things, but it goes on to say they were selling their possessions and distributing the proceeds to those in need.
This is controversial, of course, because it makes us wonder if we need to do the same.
First, did they do what we think we read here? Well, note that it says they were “selling” instead of “sold”. There seems to be an ongoing activity of supporting each other as needs arose, not a one time liquidation. Secondly, note that they broke bread in their homes, which means some still had a home. They didn’t all become homeless, even though Jesus was. Surely some did, but not all.
Whatever the details, it’s clear they suddenly saw their possessions differently, or at least the needs of others. They became generous in a new way. Surely that endures as a principle to hold today, however it’s expressed, in vows of poverty or in opening one’s home to a friend in need.
Question: To what extent does your attitude toward your possessions reflect theirs?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]