Everything in Common

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Few things seem as alien to us today as the economic life of the early Church. As the book of Acts recounts, “no one claimed that any of his possessions were his own, but they held everything in common.” The wealth of the community was pooled and distributed according to need.  

Most of us can scarcely imagine what it would be like for the Church to live like this. We tend to tune out when our pastors bring up the topic of stewardship. “It’s my money,” we grumble, “I worked hard for it.” Even if we are inclined to give, we want to provide generously for our own families first.  

Such an attitude seems entirely natural, even commendable. But there is a fear that underlies it. We fear we are alone, and the only person we can truly depend on is ourselves. We look at the early Christians and see a dangerous naiveté, a refusal to face the world as it was—and still is—in all its painful realities.  

But our ancestors in faith had died to that world. They were able to live the way they did because they had been, as Jesus puts it today, “born from above.” Filled with the Holy Spirit, they could offer everything to God because they knew they were not alone and would never be abandoned.  

Two thousand years later, we share their faith. Are we willing to share their way of life?  

Peter Nixon

J. Peter Nixon is a regular contributor to Give Us This Day. He holds a master’s degree in theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University.