I have long felt that in many respects the body of Messiah is, in a manner of speaking, reliving the 1st century. Specifically, as we are reintroduced to the roots of our faith, and the discovery of just what it really means to be “in Messiah” questions arise. How do we do this? Should we do that? Should we not do this? Just as in the 1st century, these issues can provoke a lot of zeal and a lot of debates, bringing out both good and bad. One of the positive developments in this rediscovery of our Hebrew roots is that many things that have long been misunderstood are being clarified. For example, seeing how people respond to this fascination with the roots of our faith helps me better understand the context of things Paul was writing about in his letters to the saints at Corinth and Galatia. In other words, those things that we’ve scratched our head at and wondered, “What did he mean?” But there are other things besides the writings of Paul that are coming into sharper focus and merit our attention and reexamination. For instance, in the book of Acts, we read:
“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:32-33)
The point, here, is not that we should start establishing communes but that we should be more community minded. If you have need of something I have and I can help you, then my heart should be willing to assist you. In other words, we need to work harder to have true and faithful relationships with one another so when there is a need, we would be quick to act, individually and as a community. Actually, the emphasis is not necessarily on helping others less fortunate than ourselves as much as it is being a selfless people. If we become that kind of people, helping others will become a natural by-product of who we are.
This distinction is amplified by the fact that governments feel they must legislate charity. Why is that? Is because the body of Messiah hasn’t done its job sufficiently, at least on a corporate level? Yes, there are many ministries that work tirelessly to help those in unfortunate circumstances but, unfortunately, they are continually in need of volunteers and finances because, as a whole, we are not behaving as a selfless people.
Going back to the book of Acts, notice that, in addition to being generous and wanting to help others, these men and women were proclaiming something. With boldness, they were proclaiming the resurrection of the Messiah and that is the message that sets people free. That is the greatest assistance we could ever hope to offer someone because this is what can bring someone into a relationship with the Heavenly Father. Now, let’s highlight another aspect of this early community of believers.
“And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.” (Acts 5:12-14)
Among this group of early believers, signs and wonders were common and many were being added to the community every day. Those are characteristics of a people who are embracing and declaring the truth. In fact, Messiah said that His followers would perform greater signs than He did as a demonstration that they proclaimed His truth. And so we must raise the question, “Are we displaying the characteristics like those early believers were?”
There is one last thing to consider about these early believers: other people esteemed them highly. Ask yourself: could be said of the Body, at large, today? Do people esteem us highly and, if not, it would seem that something needs to be adjusted in us – something is missing. It’s time that we humble ourselves, and strive to foster genuine, purposeful relationships with one another, and boldly preach the resurrection of the Messiah. If something’s missing in us, it’s not the world’s fault – it’s our responsibility.