[This post is part of the Becoming a Missional Family series.]
Okay, maybe that sounds crazy to you. It is.
Fact is, that kind of generosity just isn’t very realistic for the amount of margin you have in your budget. There are necessities, after all.
Enter: the family of God
Many households make light budgets
Can households in the family of God share each other’s financial burdens? It’s a terrifying question. It sounds embarrassing and burdensome. But Acts 4:34-35 sure makes it look possible.
There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
Why it doesn’t work
Is it cultural?
You may be tempted to think that our society simply isn’t built for something like that. There are too many cultural differences between theirs and ours. But hold on. Such integration was strange even for 1st-century Palestine.
Is it situational?
Some of the more biblically literate readers may say that in times of persecution, minorities (such as Christians in 1st-century Jerusalem) are forced to integrate resources simply for the sake of survival. Not so fast. These Christians were still worshiping openly in the Jewish Temple. Persecution against Christians doesn’t really erupt until Acts 8.
It’s a different issue, all together.
It’s a gospel issue.
Consider how your own heart reacts to Acts 4:32-35.
“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul.” No one would argue with that. That’s supposed to happen.
But as soon as we read, “no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common,” we freak out. Why is that?
Could it be that we are believing a different gospel? The one that western society so eloquently preaches, perhaps?
It goes like this,
You have worked hard. You’ve sacrificed. Therefore, you have been granted to enjoy all of the things that you have earned. You’re entitled to them. Sharing is permissible–even admirable– but afterwards you deserve a reward for your generosity. Beware the needy soul. They are a danger to your family. You need to protect your resources for the sake of your family. Believe in this word, you deserve it.
Turns out context does matter
There is one major contextual difference between us and the first church: a proximity to Jesus’ resurrection.
You don’t witness a guy predict his death and resurrection, do it, then ascend into the clouds without your whole world changing.
“And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.”
Fact is, everyone just witnessed Jesus give up his life for the many and then come back to life and ascend into the sky. Everyone was stoked. And their church was growing by thousands. Jesus was very real. The Spirit was tangible. Everyone was wrapped up in the movement of the gospel.
It takes a community
When a community is preoccupied with Jesus, his gospel, and his mission, “there [will not be] a needy person among them, for as many as [are] owners of lands or houses [or businesses, or stocks] sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold…and distributed to each as any had need.”
Some will continue to write this off as some form of Communist idealism. Others, I hope, will catch a vision for what could be when households open up their budgets to the mission of the family of God.
Start to share a few budget items across households and see what kind of margin gets built into your budget for the mission.
Start right now
here are some first steps toward integrating the familia Dei’s funds for a missional budget:
- Repent of your stinginess toward those in need, and get caught up in Jesus’ radical generosity
- Ask who needs help
- Offer to help without being asked
- Support a missionary with another household
- Share a cell phone family plan with another household
- Buy groceries in bulk with other households
- Share a hospitality budget with another household and host dinner parties together in your neighborhood
- Swap free babysitting with other households
- Figure out who has what in your neighborhood and never buy another tool
- Find out where people work and never shop without an insider’s discount again
How do you build margin into your budget together with community?
What would stop you from asking for/receiving help?