Friday, June 10, 2011

Nothing radical about it

There are few passages of Scripture that make evangelical American Christians squirm like the Acts 2 and 4 passages regarding community of goods in the church. It is so…foreign, alien even. I think many of us just don’t know what to do with those passages so we don’t do anything. We just brush them off as a unique situation that is quaint but not applicable to the world we live in.

Many people are starting to understand this makes little sense and for the sake of consistency we need to address these passages. The impetus for David Platt’s book Radical and his follow-up book Radical Together is a backlash against the American dream that has replaced the idea of complete sharing of goods as normative for the church. As Alan Knox points out in his interesting post today, There was not a needy person among them, this is nothing radical at all. Alan sez:

Today, caring for those in need is left to government agencies or parachurch organizations. Christians tend to give a little money and consider the problem shifted to others. The American Dream has replaced the concern for other Christians who are in need.

According to John in his first letter, the fellowship that we have with one another is actually fellowship with God the Father and with Jesus Christ. This fellowship is produced by the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who submit to God’s rule in their lives. Fellowship in the Spirit is marked by denying self in order to give to others.

This is not “radical” Christianity. This is fellowship resulting from the indwelling Holy Spirit.
That is good stuff. Sharing materially should be a natural result of being indwelt by the Spirit and living in fellowship with others. It doesn’t require a call to radicalism nor does it require am authoritarian system of sharing. It just requires Christians to take seriously what God’s Word has to say even when, or especially when, it runs contrary to our cultural understandings. We would all do better to remember that we are citizens of God’s Kingdom and that other believers are our brothers and sisters, not competitors and obstacles to our achieving the empty goal of “The American Dream”.

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