“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.” Acts 4:32
Sharing. I think for many Christians, sharing has much more to do with finding a way to evangelize, waiting for the right conversation, praying that the Holy Spirit would create an opportunity. What I didn’t realize until a few years ago, and have been learning more and more, is the opportunity we have as believers to embody the gospel through our possessions. Sharing and offering what we have to others as we offer ourselves as servants of our Lord.
What is so amazing about sharing our possessions? It is that in the same spirit as we share our lives and serve others. In a culture where a person’s success is determined more often by the the things that we have, and the amount of each of them that we have, establishing a culture of sharing turns that entire notion on its head.
In the book of Acts we are given a look into the way the first church lived and breathed together. “All the believers were one in heart and mind, and no one claimed anything as his own, but they shared everything they had,” Acts 4:32. It is out of that spirit that we would be one, united, as the bride of Christ, that we make every effort to provide for and serve our communities, that we would demonstrate the same love of our Lord, who, while we were still in darkness, gave up His life for us.
To some this would seem rather radical, but a culture of sharing in this present day is more necessary now than ever before. First and foremost, sharing what we have in community helps us to truly love our neighbors as ourselves. The things we have should be measured not how much we have (and it’s associated cost) but how much we are able to share and give to meet the needs of those with whom we are in community. In this way, rather than lifting ourselves up, we uplift those around us so that they might see the heart of their Father in us.
Sharing what we have with others also enables us to make and build real relationships. I know how much time I spend in front of a computer most days and it’s sometimes to scary to think about. Sometimes I think the desire to work out of cafes and coffeehouses, even as we won’t speak to too many people, is just to put ourselves in a social environment, even as we isolate ourselves in work. Sharing allows us to meet the people in our lives face-to-face, building trust and deepening relationship together.
Within a community, a culture of sharing not only helps us to engage and minister to each other within the church, but the act of sharing itself is a way for the church to meet the needs of others. Chronicling the first church in Jerusalem and the subsequent churches across the Roman Empire, there’s a common thread of sacrificing much for the ministry of the gospel. This occurs not just in the church of one city but also in other churches as well. I think on this even in today’s church culture: the way we provide for ministry there, the more people we have behind us, the more strength and encouragement we have to pursue the kingdom of God. As believers we are all ministers of the gospel, and the more we see and experience the love of God through our believing family, the more encouraged and confident we are in living out our faith, knowing that our church’s love for us is coming out of the heart of God. Likewise, the more we seek to love our communities with the things that we possess, God’s scandalous love is viewed in contrast to the desire for material wealth. Seeking first the kingdom of God is both challenging and inspiring, because following Him requires we give lose our lives to gain His. In doing so with our possessions, by sharing together as the church, the literal idea of all these “things” being added unto you, being available to you, is the case indeed.
When God has given us a lot of possessions to steward, we have vast opportunities for loving others in His name. I’m struck by the idea Jesus presents in John 13:35. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Rather than being held down, both literally and figuratively by the things that we have, imagine if we flipped the script, and turned those things into a blessings, an invitation into the kingdom of God.
Check out Brian’s project: Acts of Sharing