In a few weeks I’ll be preaching on Acts 4:32-35. If you’re not familiar with this passage it’s the one where everyone in the church “had everything in common” and “distributed to each as any had need.”
I’m always struck by the fact that Luke says that “there was not a needy person among them.” Remember, this was not a small church. Thousands had been saved and added to the church in just a short period of time. And on top of that, there was no WIC (Women, Infants and Children), DFACS (Department of Family and Children Services) or RPTMFNPAGITPP (Rich Politicians Taking Money From Non-Politicians And Giving It To Poor People).
How did this happen? How did this many people, many of whom we could assume were not wealthy, manage to care for one another? Acts 4:33 gives us the answer.
And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
Power. You can hardly read a sentence in the book of Acts without it pointing you to the power of the Holy Spirit.
Grace. If you had to sum up the entire Bible in one word, this one would be a good option. These early believers knew the grace of God and they couldn’t keep it to themselves.
No bureaucracy. No guilt trips from politicians that kept reminding everyone to “do their part” and “give a little more.” Just power and grace.
Whenever I read this passage, I’m tempted to wish that today’s church could go back to those days. And then I remember that in a lot of ways, we’re still there.
Last week I moved in to a new house. The Sunday before I moved I stood before my people and asked them to help if they could. On moving day, I think that there must have been fifty people there ready to help. Granted, some of those people may have thought that I was moving to Oregon and wanted to do their part to get me out of town as quickly as possible. But hey, whatever gets the couch moved.
Johnny was there. He’s a senior adult. He’s done his time helping people. His wife isn’t in the best of health. And it was cold. But that didn’t keep him from showing up, tapping me on my shoulder and asking if there was anything else that could fit on his already filled truck.
Tim had to work that morning. And his son had just had major knee surgery. And he had a million places to be that afternoon.
Brandon usually spends his Saturday mornings finding an animal to kill. He spent last Saturday morning taking a bunk bed apart just to put it back together a few minutes later.
Reggie helped me change locks and fix a dryer. Brandon did crazy things with the electrical wiring in our new house. Things that, had I tried them, you would have read in the news the next morning.
Local pastor’s charred body found suspended from tree 30 miles from his home.
And there were many more people who helped.
Looking back on that day, I can’t help but think about those two words. Power and grace. My brothers and sisters showed up that day because of those two words.
Each person that helped is in the process of being changed by the Spirit’s power. While we’re not eyewitnesses to the resurrection like Peter and John, we are no less impacted by it.
And each of us is a product of God’s grace. The people who showed up to help weren’t there because I was their pastor and helping me move was the super-spiritual thing to do. I know these men and women. They do this sort of thing for people all the time. All because of the gift of God’s grace.
A gift they just can’t keep to themselves.