They shared everything they had.
Acts 4:32 NIV
Jesus’ early disciples had a radical way of life that is extraordinary to read about. It’s detailed in the Bible, in the book of Acts. Inspired by Jesus’ life of love, they committed themselves to caring for each other as a family. People sold their stuff and gave their money away. They set up food programmes for the poor. They pooled their resources, and as it says in this verse, they ‘shared everything they had’.
Sharing doesn’t come naturally to most of us, as our exasperated parents could probably remind us. From an early age, our instincts are to protect what we have. We hoard our stuff. We guard our time. We find comfort and security in having plenty, even if it means somebody else misses out. Sharing takes generosity, and it also takes a degree of courage – we have to silence that little voice that says ‘mine!’, and trust that we will have enough.
Interestingly, it can take courage to receive as well, to be on the other side of the sharing equation. Have you ever turned down an offer of help because you didn’t want to be in someone’s debt? Or refused a kind gesture because you were too proud, or didn’t want to sound needy? Sharing recognises our inter-dependence. And in our culture, we really value being independent and taking care of ourselves.
Jesus’ disciples had learned from the master. Take that famous incident where he miraculously serves a picnic to five thousand people. Jesus breaks the bread, but he also receives it. It’s somebody else’s lunch that he shares – the unnamed boy with the five loaves and two fish.
Being God, presumably Jesus didn’t need to do that. He could miracle up his own sandwiches out of the ground. Maybe there was something he wanted his followers to see – nobody is above community, too special to share, too independent to participate. Not even God.
Embrace the gift of sharing.
What have you got to share? Food? Money or resources? Skills or knowledge? Time? Think about what you can give. And while you’re at it, ask what you can receive, and embrace the gift of sharing.