Acts 4: 32-35
32 Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33 With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35 They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
It’s easy to diss and dismiss this scenario:
“How naïve! No wonder Paul had to organise a whip round later for the Jerusalem Church.”
or, “That was in the days of the apostles – we live in different times!”
But if all scripture is “useful for teaching the truth” (2 Timothy 3:16) and if truth is to move from head to heart to feet to street, let’s take this model very seriously.
Irenaeus said we should give away income but not capital, Francis gave away both, Wesley said, “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can” – there are many models, but let’s make sure there is some practice of communal living and giving, and not a cold blank.
Christian witness ideally has a ripple effect. The risen Christ in the centre, then the witness to that, then the fruit of that in a shared household economy, then the social values which lead us to consider options like basic income and land value taxation.
In a society with many people, young and old, on their own or with one parent, we need to revisit ‘household’ and perhaps build local Christian communities out of larger sharing households. “No one said that any of his belongings was his own.”
A prayer, part of the Methodist Covenant Service:
Lord, I am no longer my own but yours
let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal. Amen.