Made for Community, Part Three
“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:44-46
We were created for community. The Holy Spirit catalyzes community. We are family in Christ as a gift of grace through faith. Here’s the second observation about spiritual community from Acts 2: in a spiritual community our focus on Jesus produces in us a focus on others. There is a critical balance in the Christian life that is reflected in our text today, a balance that is essential to healthy spiritual community. In the new spiritual community reported in Acts there was a focus on knowing and loving the Lord. They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching about Jesus and they regularly worshiped, praising the Lord together.
Sounds like pretty typical church, doesn’t it? A little Christian educationâ… a little worship. But that’s not all. Their focus on Jesus produced within them a profound focus on the needs of others.
The text says that these disciples had all things in common. They sold their goods and possessions and distributed the proceeds to those in need. You see, most of these early disciples were people who had come to Jerusalem from the surrounding region to celebrate the festival of Pentecost.
Most had planned to go home right after the festival but their new faith in Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit had so impacted their lives that they weren’t ready to go home. But at the same time most of them probably hadn’t brought all they needed for this extended stay. It would be like planning and packing for a one week vacation and deciding to stay two months. But you couldn’t just hit the ATM at the Bank of Jerusalem and buy what you needed at the Super Sinai-Mart. And so the new community selflessly cared for those with need.
Focusing on Jesus, devoting ourselves to a growing intimacy with the Lord produces in us a focus on the needs of others. That is the critical balance of healthy spiritual community.
Spiritual growth that does not lead to generosity and service is like a beautiful apple tree that bears no fruit. And generosity and service that does not flow from a growing intimacy with the Lord is like a beautiful apple that has lost its connection to the tree; it will soon shrivel.
In spiritual community our focus on Jesus produces in us a focus on others. It’s an organic unity. It is a critical balance in healthy spiritual community.
Bringing It Home
1. In what ways have you experienced the balance between focusing upward and focusing outward?
2. What are you doing in community to help you grow more intimate with Jesus?
Lord Jesus, as I focus on knowing you more, please, shape my heart to love others more. Give me eyes to see their needs, a heart to feel their pain, and hands and feet that are quick to respond. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Burnsville, MN