What quality defined the early church? What separated them from other beliefs and the mainstream culture of their time? What stood out to those looking in? The book of Acts shows us how they lived.

 
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Acts 4.32-36

What defined them was not their ethics or higher morals. What separated them apart from the rest of the culture was their willingness to share everything they had. “No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” Their chariots broke down, they lost their jobs, husbands ran off with younger women, and leaders did not always us their authority to honor God. The Epistles show us that the visible church was still tainted by sin but God clear used them and poured His loved out upon them which flowed out to those the touched.  Taking care of the widows and feeding the hungry, praying for the sick and forming a body of believers was clearly evident within the early church.

For the most part there seems to be a disconnect in the church today. Our culture values independence and self-reliance. “God helps those who help themselves” has taken over the “I can’t but You can” thinking. Christ is not the head so we can do our own thing. My eyes rely on my brain. My brain relies on my heart and lungs. My heart is useless without blood. The church is not the church when we act alone. Self-reliance is anything but a wise way to live. Instead of asking what do I need I should be asking what does my brother need. Is it encouragement? Is it a bill payment? Is it a van?

God has put me on the receiving end of brothers and sisters who say Lee needs something I have. Christians give what they have to provide for someone else’s need. God does not see this as a one way street either. In turn I must ask what do I have that will provide for someone else so that “God’s grace [will be] powerfully at work in [us] all that there [are] no needy persons among [us]”.

One experience I was blessed to be apart of was when I lived in China. The English teachers at our school put our money together and were able to buy supplies and toys for a school for poorer children with disabilities. The school would not have been able to provide these things on their own. We were also able to share the story of Christ with the kids and staff and we spent the morning playing with them. My oldest was three at the time and she was the first one to give out the presents. What joy she had to share with others and help provide for their needs.

How can I help my brothers and sisters today?

I wrote this over this last week and was going to give it the once over before posting it today. Ironically in church today Pastor Terry talked about this same idea which you can listen/watch on the church website.

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