In a compartmentalized world, we strive to have ‘everything in common’
Since Adam’s sin, God has persisted in bringing about redemption for mankind even as God promised our first parents as they left Eden. The promise of one to strike the head of the serpent foreshadows the coming of Jesus and the ending of the earthly kingdom of Israel.
With the death and resurrection of Jesus came the marvelous kingdom of God, the church. Acts and the writings of Paul reveal the rich early history of the new kingdom.
Acts’ view of the early church shows redeemed men and women rejoicing in the Lord and working with each other to show the Jewish community what the true kingdom of God would be in the future:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miracles were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. (Acts 2:42-44).
When persecution came, the church united to stand against the opposition and to pray for Peter and John when they were harassed. The church needed every person as each one’s faith grew and all sought to reach the whole world with the good news of Jesus.
Two thousand years later, the kingdom of God should renew that marvelous spirit that turned the world upside down.
The time has come to be passionate about evangelism, but we have to realize that we live in a post-Christian world that requires much more effort than a five-night study of the steps to salvation.
We live in a time when people live in small “cells” — the place where they live, the place where they work, the places where they go for entertainment, places where they work out or socialize, and some group of friends, possibly church or, more likely, social Internet sites. (It’s little wonder that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was named Time’s “Person of the Year.”)
People are so busy that their days are scheduled from the time they get up until they go to bed. The only way to reach people is to reach out in every situation and offer friendship. Only through such relationships can people be known, loved and influenced. The serious witness of a true believer will gradually wear away the tough, indifferent hearts of this generation.
The kingdom of God must have citizens who love God with all their being and who love other believers as the early church did. Today people wander into huge church assemblies and are as indifferent to the people around them as movie-goers or basketball fans.
Love has to work in the church, for we need each other. Each of us needs the support of other believers, and each must support those in need. When a family loses a job, people must surround those hurting members and offer regular, meaningful support, even as the first century church did when the visitors to Jerusalem became believers and stayed to learn more about Jesus. The emotional needs of our stress-filled lives make all believers need friends to study, pray and talk with.
The kingdom of God always has been about social justice. Today’s widows and orphans stand in as great a need as ever, and all the social welfare systems seem only to perpetuate the inequities. Our capitalist system has been beneficial as a whole, but clearly wealth accumulates and poverty spreads like a plague.
In 2010, many of the richest in the world pledged to share large amounts of their wealth to fight against poverty. Zuckerberg made a huge donation to a failing school district.
Within the kingdom, the wealthiest must lead the way and support projects to help blighted neighborhoods. Other believers must move in to mentor, encourage, tutor and love in those neighborhoods. We may never, as believers, have “everything in common,” but it should be a goal for the children of God.
I personally am offering Paul’s prayer in Philippians l: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.”
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