Wealth or Community: Which is better?
I read a description of the early church in Acts 2 this week and I wonder where that church is in America.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
When the church doesn’t look like this, what is the cause?
Does wealth isolate?
I spoke with a friend this week whose son said they wanted to get a job blowing leaves for the neighbors. After the son left the room, the father said, “Our son can go knocking on doors this week but everyone in this neighborhood has a lawn service. No one will hire him. That’s so sad.”
Yes, it is sad. Again, the more money we have to take care of ourselves…and to hire others to take care of us…the less we need community.
So here I sit staring at these verses, wanting to be more like Jesus, wanting to live my life in community….and no one else around me needs me. That leaves me with three options:
1. I can invite people to my table.
“Come on over for coffee!” “Come on over for dinner!” That’s a start, but they are tidy time slots on the calendar. Such invitations are pleasant, but not driven by paths that naturally cross or lives that need each other.
2. I can go to where people are.
I attended our ladies Bible Study this week. I love these ladies! But this type of interaction also appears in tidy time slots on the calendar. It does not constitute “real life.” As an example, I happened to mention I had a hot water heater installed and it had taken a bit of time to find someone who could install one at a good price. One lady exclaimed, “I wish I had known! My son is a plumber.”
And there you have it. In the Acts 2 church everyone would have known I didn’t have a hot water heater and the plumber in the group would have taken care of it right away.
Why does this break my heart?
Aside from being lonely, this culture of isolation and controlled schedules keeps the world from seeing the love we have for one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35
Look what happened when the church lived the Acts 2 description. Verse 47 gives the answer:
…enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The church was attractive to those who were watching. Who wouldn’t find that type of community attractive? And people were coming to know Christ DAILY.
Without community, the world can’t see us. If the world can’t see us, no one can hear about Jesus.
Rosaria Butterfield, who champions that idea that all Christians should be in meaningful community, says:
If you want to put the hand of the lost into the hand of the Savior, you have to get close enough to get hurt.
We need to have close relationships, not scheduled ones. We need to have raw relationships, not tidy ones. We need to get close enough to get hurt in the event someone is difficult to know or rejects our love or Jesus.
Rosaria asks the church, If you are sharing the gospel without a house key…why not?
And that brings me to my last option….
I start with my own house key. I stand at my own front door or look out my own window and I pray for my address to be a launching pad for community that breaks down the isolation and individualism of society and builds community. I invite people to my home. Yes, at first it’s a tidy date on the calendar, but I keep praying for God to grow the relationships into something more. I go out to where people are and I speak and love and converse with a house key heart. I am welcoming and available to help, serve and converse. I am attuned to building bridges.
Dear church, it’s not your fault that living Acts 2 is so difficult. But here’s the deal. You can’t shrink back from the individualism so prevalent in our society. You can’t, dear church, draw inward and give up. The souls of people in the houses with the closed front doors, security systems and lawn services need a Savior for their starving souls.
Let’s not give up.
I really did stand at my front window and pray that my address would be a launching pad for community that breaks down isolation and individualism and builds community in my neighborhood. After prayer..and while continuing to pray…the inviting and going begins.
Please join me.
Picture Explanation: One of the best decorating decisions I ever made was to buy winter decor as well as Christmas decor. That way, when the Christmas decor comes down in early January, there is something left to keep up for winter months. All of the red works nicely through Valentine’s day. The beginning of 2018 has brought snow, ice and cold temperatures with it. I have enjoyed my winter cheer more than usual.
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