“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” (Acts 4:32–37, ESV)
Such powerful words here. Here, The Church took care of itself. They sold everything and provided for each other. Now, before we go any further, we need to have a quick lesson here. What is “The Church”? The reason I ask this is because of the welfare mentality that is so perverse and overwhelmingly spreading throughout our society.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”” (Matthew 18:20, ESV)
Jesus called it a gathering of His people…”gathered in my name…”
In the Book of Acts, written by Luke, it is written:
“In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said,” (Acts 1:15, ESV) “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41, ESV)
The believers are called “brothers,” some translations say “Brethren”(NASB) and some use “disciples”(KJV). It’s a community of believers. They were added to the Body of Christ, that is, the church.
Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27, ESV). We are members of the body. And, to the church in Rome, Paul wrote, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:4–5, ESV).
And, in Paul(And Timothy’s) letter to the Christians in Colassae, Paul wrote that Christ is the head of the body, that is, the church, in Colossians 1:18:
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” (Colossians 1:15–23, ESV, emphasis mine).
Summing that up, the definition of “The Church” is not a building, or a small group of people(i.e. the pastors and deacons), but all believers. All professing Christians, that is those elected by God to salvation through His infinite mercy and grace when we deserved it not, are The Church. So, now, we can move on now that we(hopefully) have a good understanding of what the church is.
Going back to our passage from Acts chapter Four, it is noted in verse 34, “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold” (Acts 4:34, ESV). There was not a needy person among them. Why is that? Because The Church was taking care of it’s own, of itself. Everyone was selling their stuff, just as Jesus had told the rich young man to do(Mark 10:17-31), and its as being distributed to those who had need(Acts 4:35). Why did they do this? To take care of themselves. They recognized themselves as not only brothers and sisters in Christ, but as brothers and sisters who need to take care of each other. As family. Now this wasn’t just monetarily. They helped each other as a community of believers in everything that was needed.
Now let’s fast forward to now, 2014(skipping past 2,000 years of important Church history, which is, for the points I am working towards, not entirely relevant). Why can’t we do things like this today? Why is the church seemingly more like a business rather than a community of believers nowadays? Commercialism. The need to have bigger churches(rolls, “members”). Money. I can think of many other reasons, but, in the end, too many churches(not all), have become more business like, wanting to see good numbers from attendance, membership, and money coming in. And, they are too afraid of running out of these that they don’t want to let any of it go out. They don’t want members to leave to do something else in ministry, in fear of the church having no members left. They don’t want too much money out to the needy because they don’t want to run out of money or, *shudders in sarcastic wit* not have enough money to pay for their new multi-million-dollar building expansion, complete with fancy light and sound systems and all the bells and whistles that go along with it. What has happened to the church? The church has moved away from the gospel, from God’s word. It has moved away from sound doctrine and believe that true theology, the study of God, doesn’t matter as much. In reality, Theology Matters. A lot. Good sound doctrine matters. A lot. Without these things, people end up going to hell because they are lead to believe things that aren’t Biblical. Things that lead them to a different god than the One True God of the Bible.
One of the things I pray for daily, and will until the day I die, is that the church returns to it’s roots, realizing that it isn’t a building or a group of men who lead the flocks of God. I pray that it comes to realize, once again, that the church is made up of believers, faithfully serving Christ. That serving others, evangelizing the lost, discipling believers to create more believers, and building up leaders within the church to multiply churches is what the church is all about. Don’t get me wrong, there are many wonderful, passionate churches with sound doctrine and theology who do just this. But, there aren’t enough. The last person I asked about what he thought about Christians(he was not a Christian himself), he told me he saw us as elite, stuck-up snobs who think they are better than those that don’t go to church. Too much of society see the church as archaic and mundane, outdated and not needed. I remember reading throughout history how churches basically began social services. What happened to that? Churches have become to self-glorifying and not God-glorifying.
Now, where am I going with all of this? I strongly believe that this change, that this return to our Biblical roots will start with individuals and families. I believe that we need to be proactively looking for where we can help those within our church. That we need to proactively look for those to minister to within our communities. And, when people ask what you are doing, don’t just tell them “I’m handing out food,” or “I’m helping clean this person’s yard,” begin to tell them about Christ, and how the church takes care of itself, and you are doing this to the Glory of Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria
Let me say, I am not saying we need to sell all of our stuff to take care of each other. If that’s how you feel God is leading you, then, by all means, do so. However, what I am saying is we need to look outside ourselves to the needs of others and, where we can, help our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. To those that are lost, we need to evangelize. Even the disciples understood that, “And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.” (Acts 6:2, ESV).