No Needy Among Us
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” – Acts 2:45-46
Another facet of revival, including the revival in the early Church, is that believers were so committed to their common life that “they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” Later in Acts 4, it says that “the grace of God was so powerfully at work in their midst that there were no needy among them.”
Many have tried to superimpose a political or economic philosophy upon the early Church. Was this communism? Was it the elimination of private property? No – because the believers retained ownership of their possessions. Those with means willingly parted with their wealth to care for their brothers and sisters. Nobody was compelled to give up their possessions or wealth. The apostles didn’t taxed anyone. In fact, when Annanias and Sapphira were confronted by Peter in Acts 5, their sin was not one of withholding their own possessions; their sin was lying about it and taking credit for something they didn’t do. Peter reminds them that the property was theirs to do with as they saw fit… So the redistribution of resources was not compulsory; it was free-willed generosity, prompted by the Spirit.
This kind of generosity and compassionate social concern is always a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and a mark of full-grown revival. It is the outgrowth of an awareness of God’s mercy, kindness, and generosity that frees God’s people to be generous with one another and those outside the community. The full blossoming of revival never stops with people hearing about Jesus, or joining a community, or experiencing healing or deliverance, but leads to the Church becoming a redemptive community that causes human flourishing all around it. When revival comes, it invariably blesses those who in the world system are without resources or power. Revival leads to new structures that care for the orphan, the widow, the foreigner, the homeless, the poor. The 2nd Great Awakening in the United States was the prime driver of the abolitionist movement. The Civil Rights movement in the mid 20th Century can be understood as the result of a revival in the Black Church of the American South. Many charities and charitable organizations still around today, were outgrowths of past revivals. And if God moves today in revival, we should expect him to activate us in works of compassion, mercy, justice, and reconciliation in our time.
- Ask God to break your heart and our hearts over broken systems around us that prevent and undermine human flourishing.
- Ask God to deepen the bonds of our common life that our community would be marked by generosity and that there would be no needy person among us.
- Ask God to release in Sanctuary and other Churches compassion and callings that will bring the gospel to bear in the people and systems of Providence this year in ways that please and glorify God.
- Pray for those who God is calling to start new ministries or social enterprises to serve the “least of these” in our city.