Acts: Unity is Not Christian Communism

Read: Acts 4:32-35

For my generation, and those proceeding me (yes, there are actually people older than me!), the term Communism evokes an emotional response that’s hard to appreciate. Preface that with Christian and many of us are ready to fight! I am not an advocate for Communism, even worse, Christian Communism.

Last week, while visiting the Koinonia Farm, one of the books I glanced at had a chapter with this “CC” title. Honestly, it was hard to read. Perhaps it was written in a time of great remorse as the author witnessed the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, but it was nonetheless hard to appreciate.

If I may be so bold, let me dispense with the word Communism at this point and focus on what I think Luke wanted us to consider. The key problem with Communism is that everyone is required to participate. The church in Acts was completely voluntary. Not every home was sold. Not every account emptied. They shared and no one was in need. I don’t want this to become a dissertation on Communism, so I’m leaving it at that.

In this passage, we are invited to consider living in a complete community,

No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. Acts 4:32

The truth is I don’t own anything, everything is temporary. The bank would disagree and our investment advisor would oppose such a statement but we know for certain the only thing we take out of this life is our soul. We have an eternal presence within each of us. Beyond that, we have a temporary privilege of that which bears our signature and a responsibility to be effective stewards of the same.

This community of believers had an extraordinary experience where they built each other up for the sake of the Gospel.

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. Acts 4:34-35

This utopian experience sounds amazing — sign me up! Right? Well, not so fast. This would be great, but with humans involved, there is no doubt that that which might begin as a good idea will quickly become riddled with problems. There will be a time when the perfect order of the world is restored and we truly live in harmony. That will happen when Jesus returns. Until then, I’m afraid we need to learn selflessness from this passage while being shrewd at the same time.

The goal is not a community, the command is to make disciples of all nations. Here’s where we tend to mess things up in a big way. We read these passages and conclude that we should buy 100 acres, build huts, and serve Koolaid. History reveals these attempts often have horrible results because, in my perspective, they missed the point that we are to live in unity for the sake of the Gospel, not the other way around.

Evangelism is paramount:

But if the manager has no passion for evangelism, a slow rot can gradually convert the movement into a machine and finally make it into a monument.See note from NIVAC

So many times we put the cart in front of the horse and create some ingenious method for steering from behind. We are incredibly creative, but it’s all backward! If we keep the Great Commission greatest among our goals, we will likely have wonderful communities as a byproduct. Now that is a lofty dream worth chasing.

Imagine a community that is so focused on sharing the Gospel, worshipping together, praying for each other, and living in harmony with Jesus as the centerpiece. Think about waking up each morning and remembering that Jesus died to pay for our sins and was then resurrected by the Father to put an end to death.

This is why Luke sandwiched the thought on the community with verse 33:

With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Acts 4:33

Lord help us to keep the main thing the main thing. Teach us to live in community because we have a common desire to reach the lost, the least, and the lonely for Your great kingdom.


Note from NIVAC: Wilkins, Michael J.; Garland, David E.; Bock, Darrell L.; Burge, Gary M.; Fernando, Ajith. NIVAC Bundle 6: Gospels, Acts (The NIV Application Commentary) (Kindle Locations 78687-78688). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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