Our Acts reading gets to the point of what the early church and those earliest believers were to look like. It is almost a utopian society for those of the early church. They shared all possessions, all things, they did not act in mere human ways, but always with the Spirit. This was the hope of the Apostles when people were brought to faith. But the question is, is could this be a reality for Christians that is attainable or are they just sounding a bit like a crazy cult? Can Christianity and faith truly change us on the inside so that the behaviors and concerns of this daily life and world don’t inspire us to act poorly? These are questions that Christians are called to grapple with. And I do not think these are yes or no questions. They are questions we are called to contemplate every day as we assess our behaviors from the past, our behaviors in the present, and plan for how we handle life in the future.
If there is one thing that quarantining has done for my life, it has been to force me to continuously be assessing my life, my routine, and my actions, to see if what I am doing from day to day is working. This is something that in normal times I wouldn’t be doing because I normally am not balancing as much as I am now. I am constantly asking myself is this routine working for me: am I getting my work done and done well, am I able to take care of my needs: emotionally, spiritually, and physically, is it working for my children: are the kids getting physical, emotional, and mental stimulation that is appropriate for their needs, is this working for daily chores: is the house clean and taken care of, is this working for Bill: is he able to get his work done, and take care of his physical and emotional needs?
These are the questions I have to ask myself each and every day. And some days it is working beautifully and other days I realize that I have failed miserably. Being Christian and a believer requires us to consider doing the same thing. We should be asking ourselves key questions about ourselves as we assess our connectedness with the Spirit and if we are allowing for it to change and mold our lives into something different and better. Being a member of the early church and being converted and baptized into faith, wasn’t a light thing. It meant that you believed that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, that he was crucified and rose from the dead for us. It also meant that the Holy Spirit had affected their lives urging them to live differently. Urging them to live as Jesus would have them live.
For the early Christians, this meant rebelling against their current society and seeking to create a society where all things were shared and love prevailed over judgment and hate. As we know this was a tall order. It was nearly impossible for this type of society to be enacted successfully because it was easier to act upon immediate emotions than to reflect first. To this day it is still a tall order, one that is nearly impossible. This is why we rely upon confession in our lives because we recognize that we cannot live as Christ would have us live all the time. So we use prayer as a time to reflect upon what worked and what doesn’t and to seek guidance towards living more fully into God’s love.
This is not something to be done on our own either. But in a church community we can rely on one another for the inspiration to live in love. Stanley Hauerwas, a 20th century theologian, writes, “Saints cannot exist without a community, as they require, like all of us, nurturance by a people who, while of unfaithful, preserve the habits necessary to learn the story of God”. We are called as Christians to work together so we can try to provide the type of supportive, loving, community necessary to help us better ourselves and our relationships as individuals with the Holy. In so doing, we provide a place of sanctuary, whether it is in the church building or in the church community. We do this by reaching out to one another, by caring for one another’s needs, and by working to help each other learn the story of God in our world, in our scriptures, and in our lives.
What we see in Acts is not the description of some utopian society or cult. Rather it is the description of what a community of believers should be striving to create in their churches, in their communities, in their lives, and then hopefully this will spread and carry into the world. Remember what the scriptures say, “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need”. We don’t need to give up all we have to make this type of community a reality. But we are being reminded that we all have all things in common because of our faith and we can provide one another with what we all need to live fulfilling lives. We can change the lives of one another and we can change the world just by working to create a stronger community of God and stronger people of faith. So start by being more introspective and reflective about your own faiths, your own lives, then pray for guidance and share what you have learned with one another. This is our challenge as a people of faith. This is how we begin to build a world that acts first upon love and not upon hate and violence.
 Stanley Hauerwas, American theologian, ethicist, and public intellectual from Duke University, 20th century.
 Acts 2: 44-45, NRSV.
(Based on Acts 2:42-47)