Is There Anything Wrong With Christian Communal Living?
Acts 4:32-35 states: "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need."
There are a few principles we must keep in mind as we examine this text. When the church began in Acts 2, some of the members had come from far-away places (Acts 2:5, 9-11). They did not have a place to stay. Therefore the brethren, because of their brotherly love for one another (Hebrews 13:1), decided to voluntarily help one another "as anyone had need" (Acts 4:35) by selling possessions and lands so that the new members who were from far away could stay there in Jerusalem with them. How do we know that this was voluntary and not compulsory or mandatory?
The Bible gives us two examples of Christians who sold their possessions. Read Acts 4:36,37 on the generous example of Barnabas and then read the contrast in Acts 5:1-4: "But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."
Ananias had his possessions under his own control. When he sold the property, he could have done anything he wanted with it. This shows that this was a voluntary action rather than an obligatory action.
What if there was a great natural disaster that struck your congregation such as a hurricane or tornado and many of the members' homes were destroyed? Would we not be willing to sell some of our possessions so that we could provide for those in need, thus showing our brotherly love (John 13:34,35)? Of course.
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