The Fellowship of the Believers 42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 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, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved”.
This portion of scripture taken from the book of the Acts of the Apostles is important it is an exemplar on how a church should be and act. The Church should be communal, ownership should be in common. What good comes of hanging expensive works of arts in episcopal palaces whilst our brothers and sisters are sleeping on the street, whilst people use foodbanks because they have no source of income to purchase food. Vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas.
Church leaders dressed in finery whilst their poor brothers and sisters are dressed in rags and then they say “We must care for the poor” what hypocrites. Jesus did not say Blessed are the Rich he said Blessed are the poor. The Church today has lost its way and needs to reconnect with the First Church. In all my years of going to church I dont think I’ve heard a sermon on Acts 2 42-47 of even from Acts 4 maybe it might be to challenging. The church has allowed itself to be corrupted on the altar of consumerism. How can it say we should care for the poor when its leaders are living lives of luxury.To be fair to the Archbishop of Canterbury he did roll up his sleeves and cook for some of the less fortunate in the Medway Town.
I think we need to reconnect with the first church then we will see christian revival in this country.
The kind of society I would like to see is one which each person works not to enrich themselves in a financial sense but to enrich the community in which they live either with their time or talent.
Were each person has a roof over their heads and no person need to go without the basic necessities of life. There would be no foodbanks because no one would go hungry. There would be no homeless because each would have a roof over their head. Each would have what they need not what they want because there’s a difference between need and want.
I want a new car but I don’t need a new car that’s the difference between want and need. I want to be rich but I don’t need to be rich because who would I have to step on to become rich no I would rather not be rich in a financial sense because I would not want to step on anybody in order to achieve that goal.
The society we need to strive for is one where one person helps another person who helps another person who helps another person excetera excetera excetera. A society where everybody helps each other without seeking reward.
How many of us can truly say that we will see the kingdom of God let alone enter it. I believe that to be a follower of Christ means not being individualistic, it means being communal.
It means being part of the community where the importance of self is minimal. Jesus lived a communal lifestyle, we on the other hand do not do that unless we are in a monastic lifestyle but for most of us we are not.
In a communal lifestyle the person who has more shares what he or she has with the person who has less. That is the very nature of communal living. We often do not see our brothers or sisters problems because we are so consumed by our own.
There are times when I too am guilty of that. The need to want more is often the driving force in our lives. It is often the case when one person has more another will have less. Marx coined the phrase
” From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!”
If you were of a utopian perspective then the words of the French utopian Etienne Gabriel- Morrelly written in 1755 may speak to you.
“I. Nothing in society will belong to anyone, either as a personal possession or as capital goods, except the things for which the person has immediate use, for either his needs, his pleasures, or his daily work. II. Every citizen will be a public man, sustained by, supported by, and occupied at the public expense. III. Every citizen will make his particular contribution to the activities of the community according to his capacity, his talent and his age; it is on this basis that his duties will be determined, in conformity with the distributive laws”.
What I wonder in truth did Marx or Morrelly in order to postulate their theories take Acts 4: 32-37 as their inspiration.
“The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them. And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need.
Joseph, called by the apostles “Barnabas” (which means “Son of Comfort”), a Levite born in Cyprus, sold a field that he owned, brought the money, and made an offering of it to the apostles”.
As I get older I think maybe we should desist with our individual lifestyles and live a more communal lifestyle I think we would be more happier and contented and in the end not only will we see the kingdom of God we will enter it.
I have been thinking about how we discriminate against those who are poor, against those who are dispossessed, against those who are distressed, against those who are depressed, against all those who live in vulnerable situations.
We are often like the levitical class and the priestly class who in the parable of the Good Samaritan looked at the injured man and kept their distance and walked away without attempting to stretch forth the hand of comfort.
Since when has it been ok to see people living in poverty, since when has it been ok to see people having to use food banks because they have little to get food with, since when has it been ok to countenance this epidemic of homelessness.
I tell you my friends if we look down on the poor, if we look down on the dispossessed, if we look down on the distressed, if we look down on the depressed and if we look down on all those who are in vulnerable situations will there not come a time when we ourselves are looked down upon.
Indeed God will look down upon us and we will be judged harshly. For if we do not have any compassion we will be shown no compassion. The time will come when those who we look down upon will be exalted and lifted up whilst we will be eternally punished and thrown into the pit.
It is not too late to change our ways, it is not too late to show compassion to the lost and to the found, to the dispossessed, to the depressed, to the distressed and to all those who live in vulnerable situations. Our compassion must be more than mere words it must be actions also. God judges us not only on our words but also on our actions.
How many of us go to church on a Sunday dressed to the nines, how many of us look like struting peacocks. How many of us pretend to be holy when in truth we are frauds. How many of us like to say look at me how good am I when the truth is that we are like an empty pot. Shiny on the outside but nothing on the inside. Filled not with compassion but rather filled with a hardness of the heart.
Showing compassion does not mean that you are soft , does not mean that you are an easy target for those who take advantage of somebody else’s kindness. Having a compassionate heart sets you apart from those who would take advantage out of other people’s weaknesses. For the compassionate person never takes advantage out of other people’s weaknesses.
If you are to live a christ-like life however hard that is in today’s society it is so important that you have a compassionate heart. Perhaps the second chapter of the book of James sums it all up.
This is an important piece of scripture you should all read and learn from it
James 2 The Message (MSG)
The Royal Rule of Love
2 1-4 My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, “Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!” and either ignore the street person or say, “Better sit here in the back row,” haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?
5-7 Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God. And here you are abusing these same citizens! Isn’t it the high and mighty who exploit you, who use the courts to rob you blind? Aren’t they the ones who scorn the new name—“Christian”—used in your baptisms?
8-11 You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: “Love others as you love yourself.” But if you play up to these so-called important people, you go against the Rule and stand convicted by it. You can’t pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others. The same God who said, “Don’t commit adultery,” also said, “Don’t murder.” If you don’t commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder? No, you’re a murderer, period.
12-13 Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.
Faith in Action
14-17 Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
18 I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”
Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.
19-20 Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?
21-24 Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham “made right with God by works” when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”? The full meaning of “believe” in the Scripture sentence, “Abraham believed God and was set right with God,” includes his action. It’s that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named “God’s friend.” Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?
25-26 The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn’t her action in hiding God’s spies and helping them escape—that seamless unity ofbelieving and doing—what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.
Muslims from all over the world are observing Eid Al-Adha. It is a holy festival which started yesterday Sunday 11th of August and finishes on Thursday the 15th of August.
It is also known as a festival of sacrifice because it remembers that Abraham was willing to Sacrifice his son in obedience to gods command. The story is recounted in the 22nd chapter of genesis in the Old testament and it is also recalled in Paul’s letter to the Hebrews chapter 11.
The fundamental difference between those of us of judeo-christian heritage and those of Islamic heritage is that we believe that Abraham was prepared to Sacrifice his son Isaac the son whom his wife Sarah bore.
Our Islamic cousins believe that Abraham or Ibrahim as they call him was going to sacrifice the son that he had with the servant girl Hagar that son was named Ishmael.
I think the importance of this story is about obeying God’s commands.
I find this story from Old testament scripture most interesting.
Abraham’s wife Sarah was barren and could not have children. Abraham like most men got the urge and Sarah told him to go with the servant girl Hagar which he did and the result of that union was Ishmael.
There is no doubt from my reading of the Old testament scripture that Abraham loved his son Ishmael and spent much time with him. Sarah on the other hand was intensely jealous of the relationship that Abraham had with Ishmael and did much to separate them. Eventually Sarah finally gave birth to a son we know as Isaac.
The important thing is to understand inheritance rights as they would have applied in those days. Isaac who in fact was the second son of Abraham received the inheritance rights because he was the sun between Abraham and his wife Sarah.
Ishmael did not receive the inheritance because Abraham was not married to Hagar. Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away in obedience to gods command and with the proclamation made by Sarah “that this boy shall not be an heir with my son Isaac” Genesis 21 10-12.
From a Judeo-Christian perspective which as a Christian I hold too is that it was Isaac that Abraham was going to sacrifice.
Also the place where that sacrifice was to take place was also very important. The place was Holy Mount Moriah. King David purchased from Ornan the Jebusite the threshing floor on Mount Moriah and it was here that the first temple was built and the second temple which is known as Herod’s temple was built. Now stands in its place following the destruction of the temple under the Romans in 70 CE is the Dome of the Rock.
Temple Mount is a place in Jerusalem which is of significant importance to Jews, Muslim and Christians.