32 The group of followers all felt the same way about everything. None of them claimed that their possessions were their own, and they shared everything they had with each other. 33In a powerful way the apostles told everyone that the Lord Jesus was now alive. God greatly blessed his followers, 34and no one went in need of anything. Everyone who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money 35to the apostles. Then they would give the money to anyone in need.
36-37Joseph was one of the followers who had sold a piece of property and brought the money to the apostles. He was a Levite from Cyprus, and the apostles called him Barnabas, which means “one who encourages others.”
As a journalist, I love stories. One reason why I enjoy reading the Bible is because I discover in its pages the stories that the first Christians told about themselves. What did it mean for them to follow Jesus in everyday life? How were Christians different from others in their culture? Luke has begun to paint a picture that I recognize, and yet some details puzzle me.
Luke mentions for the second time that some believers sold houses and land to gather resources so no one would be needy in their community. How often have you seen that happen in your church? “None of them claimed their possessions were their own” (v 32).
How do we relate this passage to our context? Under what conditions does this example of radical generosity make sense? I am no ancient historian, but Luke’s portrait of the emerging Christian church fascinates me. They were one in heart and mind; They shared everything they had with each other (v 32); And no one went in need of anything (v 34).
Other church leaders like Paul said much the same thing. The Church was a family of believers, a household of faith (Galatians 6:10). As Christians we make up one body, and if one part suffers, the whole body suffers (Romans 12:5). We are not just a collection of individuals saved by God, but a holy temple joined together where God’s Spirit dwells (1 Corinthians 3:16). When Christians experience and live the kind of deep connection to each other that God’s Spirit makes possible, this kind of radical generosity makes sense. It’s a foretaste of the coming Kingdom.
What does love in action look like for you? Selling a used car and donating the proceeds? Adopting a child? Let holy imaginations run wild.
Loving God, who gives all we need, plant in me a heart like yours. Open my eyes to the needs of those around me. Open my heart to give with great love and joy. In the name of Jesus who gave his body that I might have abundant life. Amen.