The Common Life

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. [1]

According to this text, the 3000 plus people who now made up the church, were devoting themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship and the breaking of bread and prayers.  Notice if you would that immediately, those who were converted began learning the Bible and were sharing the common life.  For these believers, learning, praying and sharing the common life of their new life in Christ was all encompassing.  Jesus wasn’t just another thing they added to their daily schedule; he determined what their schedule would be!  Peter, had just preached about how God had made this Jesus both Lord and Christ.  The people repented and now they recognized unequivocally that He was indeed their Lord.

So far reaching was the conversion of these 3000 people that they committed all that they had to the common life of the community voluntarily.  There was no compulsion or requirement for them to do this.  It’s simply the way they wanted it.

It’s hard for us in our individualistic society we live in to imagine such generosity where people shared what they had with others.  Many people have attempted to emulate this phenomenon, but it usually has ended up being some kind of weird hippie commune, where it is no longer voluntary to share with those in need, but mandatory.  It’s not a far jump from doing that to a cult, where you are suddenly separated from your family and friends and off to do “great exploits for ‘God.’”

However, what we need to understand from this story is that this was a historical event Luke records for us, not so we will all go out and form a hippie commune, but so that we can glean the principles of what it looks like in the church when people allow Jesus to be the Lord of every aspect of their lives.

The principle we should carry away from this is that when we have Jesus as Lord of our lives, we should have generous hearts, realizing everything we have actually belongs to him.  We learn also the importance of being taught good doctrine and the importance of Christians being together for fellowship and prayer.  Finally we learn that when all are involved in this way, being his witnesses with the power of the Holy Spirit is easier when we work together at it with our resources.  After all, don’t forget; in this type of atmosphere, the Lord was adding to their number daily, those who were being saved.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ac 2:42–47). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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