“And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the feet, and they would be distributed as any had need.”-Acts 4:32-35
I’m a communal living hippy at heart. I love the idea of a large piece of land or a huge house lived in by many different families and people, all putting into the support of each other. And I don’t just mean putting money in, I mean putting time, giftings, support…the whole kit and caboodle. My heart is almost obsessed with serving people and showing the love of Christ in tangible ways to all people.
Here are two things I find really interesting about this passage in scripture: 1) not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; and 2) abundant grace was upon them because not one of them was in need. I think that these two points are the main ingredients of a life abundant in God’s love, grace, peace and mercy. They are the very definition of community!
Nothing that is technically “owned” by me if I’m focused on you and God. That includes my time, my attention as well as my money and my possessions. God says in several places that He doesn’t want our money or our sacrifices, He wants our hearts. That same idea is true of the people around us, He wants us to give them our hearts and then everything else falls into place. When I fully grasp that whatever I consider to be mine is God’s and yours, then I hold it loosely and I focus more on God.
Abundant grace is a natural result of a life that is full and not lacking. The more I have of things such as love, grace, peace, mercy and forgiveness, the more I am able to give those things right back out to the people around me. When my needs are met, I’m able to be open to meet your needs. God didn’t save us to have us build a personal kingdom on an island waving a flag of salvation for those, “over there”. God saved us so that we can be His hands, feet, hugs and meet the needs of the people around us and show them His love and lead them to His salvation. That’s community!
This weekend we have a global evangelist in our area for a 3-day conference. This conference is free and therefore, an amazing opportunity! The speaker has written loads of books and speaks all around the world plus on tv. She’s awesome and again, amazing opportunity! Months and months ago several of us put it on our calendars to attend. As the time got closer, I just wasn’t feeling like it was something God was wanting me to attend but I couldn’t really figure out why. My excitement level was low and I just honestly wasn’t interested in going. Crazy right?? The week of the conference, one of my dearest friends really had it heavy on her heart to go but she’s another single mom like me so it makes things like this a little more challenging. I immediately offered to stay home so that she could go and we could host her daughter. Easy breezy for me and our daughters are close so it was good all around. My time isn’t mine, I don’t own it, it’s meant to be shared and that’s what I did. I gave her my time and my care for her daughter so that she could go and hear God’s word for her.
Now, whenever we do something like this, we know that the enemy will be close by because the LAST thing he wants is for us to support each other and build a strong community. He also, obviously, doesn’t want any of us growing closer to God. The week of the conference, our friendships and our lives got rocked. Both of our daughters hit hard situations and revelations that we had not seen coming. There was a lot of drama happening at school for both of them and we, the moms, were getting pulled in. If God wasn’t central to us, if we weren’t both dedicated to community and living lives dedicated to others, we could have so easy gotten mad at each other and ruined absolutely everything for this weekend. Praise God, we both felt the attack and prayed against it both individually AND together. As I write this, the girls are hanging out and my friend is off at the conference.
Oh, and just to remind me that the enemy is roaming, looking for an entrance to bring destruction, just today she ran into a bump with care for her dog. I immediately, completely acting under the power of God and the desire for community like in Acts, said whatever it takes, we’ll take care of the dog. So, we’ll go a little out of our way to take care of her dog so that she can focus on being present at the conference. I don’t tell any of that story for anyone to say, “Wow, what a good friend you are”, because that’s not my purpose. I tell this story to show that we absolutely can and should live in community where no one has a need and everything we have is shared. That’s what God is calling us to and I don’t believe that it is soft invitation, I believe that is His absolute expectation.
Sacrificing ourselves, sharing our possession, time, love is the way to live in unchained community. Everyone is equal and has something to offer. Everything is offered up for the good of the community. Once we embrace this life, we live in the abundance of grace, unchained.
Take stock, honest stock, of what you consider your possessions and make sure you aren’t holding on too tightly. That includes the tangible as well as the intangible. God is asking you to live like the believers in Acts, “not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them” (Acts 4:32). God will make sure all of your needs are met.