Key Texts: Acts 4:32-35
Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
When I was a kid I went through a period where I was pretty obsessed with swords, chivalry, damsels in distress, and the like. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table held great fascination for me; as did a few heroes from a later time period: the Three Musketeers.
You might recall that the Musketeers had a phrase they would yell out before they embarked on their adventures: “One for all, and all for one!” It spoke volumes about their unity, their devotion to one another, and to their cause.
Well, the early church – as far as I know – didn’t have a catchy phrase they would yell out in meeting. But their actions spoke louder than any slogan.
They were totally unified and completely devoted – to each other – and most of all – to their risen Lord.
Even after he had physically left them, they counted on the fact that the Spirit had come, just as promised, which only further unified them in their holy calling and divine purpose.
Sadly, two thousand years later, the Church is anything but unified. There are so many denominational differences; so much doctrinal controversy. Personally, I think that “grieves the Spirit”.
It is one reason that I am so glad that the particular denomination in which I was raised and in which I serve continues to highlight unity as an important goal for the Church. One way we demonstrate this is by celebrating the Lord’s Supper weekly, in remembrance of Him. We also have a few slogans of our own, such as “We are a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.”
I love reading about how the early church were of “one heart and soul” and wish believers around the world today could find more common ground. Again, one of the favorite slogans of which we are fond in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” That phrase is attributed to a number of different noteworthy individuals, but it is my understanding that theologian Richard Baxter brought it forth for the English speaking world. Whoever first said it, it’s a good one.
All for one and one for all – at our best we are thus pointed toward Christian unity in the name of the Holy One named Jesus Christ – and I think it pleases God very much when we actually manage to do it.