Sunday, February 11, 2007

So....what are you saying?

UPDATE: Please note that Pastor Billy didn't advocate commune living. This was something I was wondering about when the verse went up. It seemed like something worth investigating on my own. Pastor Billy was simply making a point about living in community in general.

So our Pastor had an interesting message the other night...he was talking on the subject of community.

He referenced Acts 2:42-47:
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

For a second, I almost thought that they were announcing "The Aqueous Commune".

But then it came to me: what does that mean for me? What is the application in my life. A couple of things stand out:

They did not quit their jobs. It does not say that they "quit their jobs, pooled their money, and cut themselves off from the responsible world".

So, the hippies got it wrong.

Which is good...I suck at the Tambourine.

So what is to be said here?

I know of no communes that have lasted with any success, save the Amish and maybe some Mormons.

But, I think regressing is not the way for the church to head, and, frankly, from what I've heard, trying to connect with one wife is hard enough, let alone many.

The ATF proved a deep theological point, namely that Sun Tzu's thoughts on fire trumps nutbag every time.

And who can forget that one compound that proved conclusively that cherry beats apple flavor, hands down.

So, commune living is out.

So how do re reconcile Acts 2 to our present method of living?

I notice that Acts 2 does not say anything along the lines of, "as it should be". It simply gives an example.

Pastor Jack Hayford blew my mind when he casually dropped in the middle of a service that: "God is not limited to his actions in the past". In other words, repeating what happened in the Bible in terms of configuration of people, resources, and specific prayers are no guarantee of God's will, unless it says so.

For example, The Lord's Prayer, starts with "This then, is how you should pray."

It is an explicit instruction.

The verses in Acts 2 offer no such wording.

It was how they acted in that time.

Furthermore, the footnotes in my bible point out that this was done so that they could pool their resources and provide for those that did not have enough for the essentials of living.

In current time, we live in a country where the poorest amongst us are still overweight. Our churches and church-affiliated non-profit organizations provide the most aid to foreign countries than the second and third placed countries combined.

So the reasons for a "sell everything and move in together" model of community are no longer strictly necessary.

Which is nice.

No offense to those who are/were hippies, but I really like to bath.

Interesting side note: reading through the Bible, I came across Exodus 36:3:
They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning.

The "Freewill offerings" was the construction of the tabernacle and all its components. So, by definition, giving of your time is an offering to God. So the next time some church attempts to guilt you into volunteering, you can gently remind them that it is an offering, not a requirement.
UPDATE: Please note that Pastor Billy doesn't do this. I meant this for the church in general, which does have a bit of a reputation for guilting people into service.

1 comment:

Paolo said...

Just to add, the New Testament is full of verses showing that the Lord's love is not gained through strictly obeying complex rules and observing elaborate taboos. Jesus' parables about Samaritans, Lepers and his dialogue with the Samaritan woman at the well and the adulteress, plus Peter's dream of the forbidden food, Philip's baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch are just a few examples.

The Gospel grows with the times and only at that point in time was it relatively "safe" to preach to gentiles and not just Jews. Paul, if he weren't a Roman citizen, wouldn't have travelled easily around an area that was the scene of bloody battles just a couple of centuries before Alexander and the Ceasars.

While it is valuable for us to remember those ancient taboos and exclusions, it is only to remind us that we are all gentiles.

In this day and age, when a single blog can reach people from Antartica to China and Zimbabwe, we should be wary of any group that espouses the opposite.

Go out and mingle.