After the events of the day of Pentecost, the healing of the lame man, and the great response of multitudes in Jerusalem, the church faced life in the world of that day. A world of darkness, and difficulty. And yet met it with a flowing out of the life of Jesus Christ. This is ideal Christianity, true, genuine Christianity. Unfortunately, there is also a counterfeit Christianity. It came in shortly after this in the early church, and evidence of it will be seen throughout the book of Acts. Wherever the true church has gone throughout the world, counterfeit Christianity has gone right along with it. How can you tell true Christianity from counterfeit?
Counterfeit Christianity can be recognized externally as a kind of religious club where people, largely of the same social status or class, and bound together by a mutual interest in some religious project or program, meet to advance that particular cause. That is part of Christianity and let’s face it every group that gets together. But that is a far cry from all that true Christianity is. True fellowship consists of individuals who share the same divine life, who are made up of all ages, backgrounds, classes, and status-levels of society, and who, when meeting together, regard themselves as what they really are, brothers and sisters in one family. With that mutual background of love and fellowship they manifest the life of Jesus Christ.
That is what we have here. The key idea is community, commonness, everything in common. They were of one heart and mind. Here were people who, by the Holy Spirit, had been united into one life. They were of one heart. At the very deepest level of their lives they belonged to each other, and that is only possible by means of the Holy Spirit. They did not need to have met someone before to recognize that if he or she is a believer they belong to each other, they are of the same family and they always have the most important thing in common. This was true of these people.
Not only did they have it, but it also manifested itself in the fact that everyone had a new attitude toward the material life. This is not a forced distribution of goods. It is not an attempt to make everyone give up their material things and redistribute them to others. No, it is a change of attitude, saying, nothing that I possess is mine, but everything that I possess is God’s, and therefore it is available to anyone who needs it. So here were these early Christians, one in heart and mind and body, united together. That is the church as it ought to be.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- Don’t point the finger at others – but look at yourself. How authentic, true and genuine is your Christianity? Are there any areas where you slip into a counterfeit Christianity? What would the fix be?
- How will you practice unity of the church body this week? And next week?
- What do you “possess” that is God’s? (Hint: it should be a pretty long list – but go for it – no one word answers here.). How can you show that these belong to God and make them available to anyone in need?