For as long as I can remember, this passage in Acts has captivated me. I remember stumbling upon it later in my teenage years and just reading it over and over, trying to figure out what to do with the words.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 42-47
I still often pour over this.There’s so much richness here, but the part that has always blown my mind is the fact that they “were together and had all things in common”.
Throughout my life, as I look around the church, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t that we have all things in common. In fact, often it feels like we have nothing in common. We all huddle up in our little circles, where everyone looks similar to us and thinks similar to us. We tear apart those who think differently from us, even if they claim and hold dear the same Jesus we do. Unity has not been something that defines the church in my lifetime…at least not the one I’ve seen.
Yet, I have so desperately longed for it. I dared to hope that this text was descriptive and prescriptive. I doubted God that this was possible…as though maybe it were too much for Him, and simultaneously wanted to will it into existence.
This week seemed no different as the interwebs lit up with debate on what the church was, and was not. To go to, or to be. Everyone chiming in and having an opinion. Tearing down, critiquing, disagreeing. Few really seeing. The people behind the words. Piece by piece we dismantled the church in which Christ is the cornerstone. Everyone with words, cautions and fixes. Few thoughts or dialogue about real issues and concerns facing the modern day church, mainly reprimands. What happened to loving Jesus and people first? Loving Jesus more than our thoughts or opinions? Agree to disagree, and press on together after Christ? Yes, the issue at hand is concerning, but the only way we can face it and change it is together, not divided.
With thoughts and frustrations like this swirling, the church having all things in common once again seeming unfathomable, I walked into the IF gathering.
Several months back I stared to see Twitter buzz on IF, a new thing, different from others. It was about women….from all back grounds, denominations, races…coming together and then being poured out. And unity. It seemed too much, and yet I was anxiously optimistic. It stirred the yearning once more.
I’m still processing so much of the richness, wisdom and raw beauty of this weekend, but I know for the first time in along time, I’m so very hopeful about the future of the church.
This weekend I watched a former prostitute and church girl take the stage together, and not see their differences but their striking similarities. I saw a line up of speakers that included those that leaned right and those that leaned left. There were hand raisers and chair sitters, in attendance. Pentecostal and Episcopalian. Pant suits and leggings. I looked at a room, and a stage and saw the body of Christ.
After this weekend, the idea that we could have all things in common doesn’t seem quite so crazy. Even if it is, I know I’m not just one crazy one who wants this, to fight for this, but one of many. I enter this week brimming with hope for unity in the church.
You can listen to talks from the IF conference for free until midnight tonight, and learn more here.