ACTS IN 90 DAYS
A reading for Wednesday, May 20, 2020: Acts 4:32-37.
"With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great grace was upon them all."
Today's lesson always gives us pause, especially those who enjoy the benefits of our capitalist economic system. How could the early believers share everything they owned? Is that what is expected of us too in order to be faithful?
It's important to understand the context of such a story. In the first century, virtually all those that followed Jesus were living in Roman occupied territory. For anybody other than Roman citizens, that put them at a significant economic disadvantage. Romans claimed ownership on all property limited the ability of anyone other than Romans to accumulate wealth. Romans could and often would heavily tax those they occupied to provide for the empire as well as to keep a firm advantage over them. So most of the followers of Jesus were struggling economically as well as politically.
Therefore as a witness to Jesus, they decided to declare their economic independence from the Roman system. We don't have to take the scraps from the Roman table, but instead can band together and take care of one another in Jesus name. The sharing of property, refusing to claim private ownership, was a revolutionary way to declare wealth under Jesus name. It was not just economic or even political, but was testimony to the power and authority of Jesus.
When we read these words, rather than a mandate to imitate exactly what the first followers did, we might take their lead and begin to imagine what our economic and political witness to Jesus is for our age. How do we structure the economics of our family and our neighborhoods in order that others know we follow after Jesus? Living with less so that we might give a portion of our income to others that are in need? Saving enough to give us the freedom to make faithful decisions regarding employment and where we choose to live? How do we support the mission and ministry of our church or other organizations that are doing the work of faithful people? These are just a few starting questions...
Jesus had a lot to say about economics and the first century church heard his mandate and created their witness. We are invited to do the same.