Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
During the season of Easter a reading from the book of Acts typically takes the place of the Old Testament reading in a church service. This week, a reading from Acts 4:32-35, which is, in many regards, a restatement of the state of affairs recorded near the end of Acts 2. The Christian group has been growing. As it grows and spreads, it becomes increasingly visible in and around Jerusalem.
This passage has often been described as an advertisement for socialism. There is, doubtless, a collective element to it. The people are bringing their goods together so everyone will have enough. However, the sharing is not entirely unlimited. Verse 34 indicates that ownership of personal property was still an element. The giving also looks entirely voluntary, as opposed to socialist systems in which “contributions” are compulsory. Distribution, also, was for those who had need. This is not an indicator of an economic adjustment by which everyone has the same. It is, however, an indicator that those who were in need would be helped.
There’s a much more important element of this passage than the whole economic structure. What does all of this demonstrate? In verse 33 the apostles are seen telling about Jesus’ resurrection. This is a powerful move, and distributes God’s grace. Yes, we want to feed the poor. But above all we want to provide people with the food that doesn’t perish, but nourishes to eternal life. We bring the good news of Jesus’ death in our place and his resurrection from the dead, showing that he is the one who can bring us to eternity as well.
May the Lord continue to bring glory to himself through the proclamation of the Gospel and the evidence of Christians caring for the poor.
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