Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.

Acts 4: 32

 

We live in a world and in cultures that hold independence as a very lofty and idealistic goal. Children are taught to make independent decisions and parents gain a sense of success when they are able to live and to function fully on their own. Parents praise the independence and fear the times of need; so, in many situations, children don’t learn that seeking help and support is a mark of emotional and spiritual strength. Additionally, one of the hardest things that most of us can ever do is ask for help. The nature of the help doesn’t always matter, either. We can be carrying a heavy load up stairs and through an awkward passageway and the last thing we would ever consider is setting it down and finding someone to lift the other side. The situation that we are in can be crushing and the prospect of disaster can be waiting outside our door and we will go about the day with a false smile on our face and “I’m fine’ on our tongues.

 

Belief in Christ should be a game changer in this aspect of life. When we enter into a relationship with Jesus we are joined with His Spirit. We are new beings. We have a redefined family that consists of people who are not connected by the blood of our human relations but that is joined together by a mystical, spiritual relationship in and through Christ’s Spirit. This family holds in common a new value system, an ethical foundation, which is actually the one that God devised for humanity at the moment of creation. Although we speak in terms of new family, we are really referring to our ancient ancestral roots. When we enter into Christ we gain back the true community that sin robbed from us. One of the marks of maturity that is seen among God’s people is the desire to join into this community. I think that God, the Father’s, heart is warmed when He sees us living honestly and lovingly together.

 

When Luke was describing life in the context of the newly formed church in the times after Jesus had been with them, he granted us a picture of the way that God wants His people to function through all time. The people who lived in those days were not really different from the rest of us. In other words, they were not super saintly folks who never disagreed and who always spoke in kind and supportive terms of each other. We know from the accounts in the Bible that they were weak, mean spirited, and sinful just like us. The point that God wanted us to understand here is that when we choose to live in Christ’s community, we can and should hold higher anticipations and expectations. In this context we are under a mandate from God to love and to respect each other. Christ grants us the grace and the resources to hold all that we have whether tangible, emotional, or spiritual in open hands that seek to meet needs and to provide support. This ability to trust in Christ to give each of us all that we may need, to openly and honestly share our trials and needs with our faith family, and to reach out to others with Christ’s love is the mark and the sign of being of one mind and one soul in Christ.

 

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12: 12, 13

 

The diversity that is found in humanity is a good thing. It is a part of what makes this world interesting as it helps to create the flavor and the spice that enlivens life. We come from many different backgrounds. The languages that we speak have a variety that is incomprehensible to most of us. Even in our own communities and in our own families we find strikingly large differences in what we look like, how we think, and in our ways of handling life. Humanity is like one of those great canvases on which the artist Jackson Pollock scattered his wildly imaginative swirls, globs, and splashes of paint. Sometimes our imaginations are engaged and we are opened up to new ideas and our minds create wonderful vistas out of the color and shapes. Then there are times when it all seems confusing, chaotic, and disturbing and fueled by our discomfort we can react very negatively.

 

It seems to me that God did not originally intend for all of this discord to exist. He made people in His image so that we possessed a singular focus for our hearts and our minds. God desired for all of us to live in a state of constant relationship with Him and in loving and peaceful relationships with each other. I don’t think that His heart and mind have changed in regards to this desire. God’s primary desire for His creation is that we would be reconciled to Him. It is through this reconciliation to our Creator that we will also become free to love and to care for and about each other in a manner that is similar to the way that God does it. Jesus Christ is the singular way to this reconciliation with God, and He is the answer to everything that is broken in our world. All restoration needs to be founded upon Christ, and all hope for peace comes from and through Him.

 

The common bond that all of humanity can hope for is found through Christ’s Spirit. When we open our hearts to His presence and surrender our wills to His leading, we are transformed. The baptism that His Spirit grants to us washes away the fear and the self-centered desires that work to separate people from each other. In Christ we are made into something that is very different from what we were before. God’s will is that we would begin to see the world around us and all of its inhabitants in the light of His grace and love. As we gather around Christ’s cup of blessing, we can not afford to be concerned about the race, social status, or nationality of the other lips that are touching it. We are literally one in Christ, and when we war against another partaker of Christ we are at war with ourselves and stand in opposition to God’s expressed will.