2004-04-16 - Revolutionary Words
They are all around us. We see heart-rending footage of poor children in Third World countries and are shocked, but we have needy people in our own communities, our own schools, sometimes our own workplaces. Every night, some of our "neighbors" (by Jesus' definition) are going to bed without eating. Children have stomachs distended by hunger. Hard-working families struggle to "make ends meet." Ill people who cannot afford insurance do not get the medicine that could make them better.
In the model early church, this was not so.
Acts 4:32-35 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. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34 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 35 and lay them at the apostles' feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need. (NAS)
Those are convicting words, aren't they? There were no needy people. Those who had more than enough shared with those who didn't have enough. The body of Christ functioned as it should, with members taking care of each other.
There is nothing wrong with owning possessions; in fact, God sometimes provided people in the Bible - and continues to do so - with material blessings such as homes, vehicles etc. But He also expects us to share what we have.
In the United States alone, in 2002, thirteen MILLION children lived in homes that could not provide enough food for them.
So what can we do? Even if we are poor ourselves, we can pray. We can volunteer for organizations that help the poor. Giving time and effort doesn't cost a penny.
If we have a little money but not much, we can follow the example of the woman who donated "the widow's mite." And for those of us who are materially blessed, we can look for organizations with good accountability (for stewardship as well as the ultimate good of the recipient), and contribute to them.
If we have the gift of Encouragement, we can give a listening ear to someone who is struggling financially. We can help them find organizations that will assist them, and some of us can make referrals to Food Banks etc. We can encourage our church leaders to get our churches more involved with helping the needy.
There is something each one of us can do. I challenge you (and myself) to ask God this week what He wants US to do toward making it once again the reality of the church that there is "not a needy person among them."
Comments or Questions?