I have called upon You, for You will answer me, O God;
Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech.
Wondrously show Your lovingkindness,
O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand
From those who rise up [against them.]
Keep me as the apple of the eye;
Hide me in the shadow of Your wings
From the wicked who despoil me,
My deadly enemies who surround me.
Psalm 17:6-9 (NASB)
If I had a dollar for every time I've heard someone talk about the idea of an Acts 2 church, or at least a church that looks like that described in the first few chapters of Acts, I could probably afford to go out and just plant a church.
There is a lot of debate I've encountered about how to read the idea that the church in the beginning of Acts had all things in common. The more politically conservative groups I tend to know like to talk about this pointing to the need to live in community, even radical community sometimes, but there's little application to this notion beyond seeing each other outside of church on purpose. In far more leftist circles, the idea seems to be to take the communalism and directly place it in today's context, whether in a state-wide communist society or a more local, counter-cultural body that rejects personal property and shares all that they have with one another.
I submit that there is something we don't tend to talk about that shows up in this idea, and it comes to mind today because much of my reading was about it. Living the lifestyle described of the church in Jerusalem requires an awful lot of willful vulnerability. You cannot sell all you have and place it at the feet of your leaders without accepting that you will now be reliant on those leaders for your every need. However we would apply it today, we must have in our minds that one of the most basic experiences of this church would have been the knowledge that they were not only pouring their resources into supporting one another, but that they were submitting themselves to needing support and trusting that the support would come.
This also points us back to God. Who is our provider? From where does our help come?
I am weary with my sighing;
Every night I make my bed swim,
I dissolve my couch with my tears.
My eye has wasted away with grief;
It has become old because of all my adversaries.
Depart from me, all you who do iniquity,
For the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping.
The LORD has heard my supplication,
The LORD receives my prayer.
All my enemies will be ashamed and greatly dismayed;
They shall turn back, they will suddenly be ashamed.
Psalm 6:6-10 (NASB)
I have for some time held that one of the great dangers of our modern idea of Christianity in America, the Religious Right and the marriage so many churches have with specific political powers, is that it is an attempt to seize control of that which we were never meant to control. We try so hard now to control the seats of power, to direct the forces that we fear will persecute us. And for what end? Do we expect that we can overcome Christ's promise that we will have trouble if we can just become the ones who give out trouble? Do we believe that we can reach the nations by dropping bombs on their homes and building walls to keep them out of our own?
Where is the humility in our expression of faith today? Where are we esteeming others above ourselves? In what way are we allowing ourselves to be at the mercy of God if we strive constantly to control our own fate and our own environment to make it something we consider safe? How are we telling the world that we are saved through God's great provision and that we trust in His generous giving while we dig our claws into more power, more authority, more wealth and comfort?
How can we expect anyone to believe that we are laid bare and vulnerable before our God if they cannot see us allow even an ounce of vulnerability to each other?
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation