“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” Acts 2:44-45
The Book of Acts gives us a picture of how the earliest Christians lived. In it, we see how that first group of approximately 130 believers following Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension grew into what we now call the Church – the Body of Christ. In essence, if we as Christians traced our family tree as far back as we could these men and women in Acts would be our deepest roots, for it is their faithfulness to Christ and His mission that led to our hearing the Gospel.
This is humbling, amazing, and convicting all at the same time when you consider that the Christian faith has both survived and thrived when all earthly odds were stacked against it. The early Church had no political influence whatsoever. There was no military power backing them. They had not yet established a central organization, had little financial resources, and owned no buildings or property. Not to mention that the members were likely to be ostracized, tortured, imprisoned, or even killed. Yet somehow, Christianity spread like a wildfire. Why is that, and what can we learn from this rich heritage?
While Christianity didn’t have any of the strengths that we today might consider important to fuel its growth, it did have two qualities that worked like gasoline on a fire. The early believers were gracious with and generous to one another. In terms of wealth, they had little but gave big; and in terms of unity, they lived their lives together, accepting and embracing their differences. This unity and generosity weren’t forced. This culture within the Church formed because, as individuals, they realized that they were who they were, and they had what they had, because of the goodness of God – and they wanted to show God’s goodness to others.
So what can we learn today from their example? If our heartbeat as individuals is to show others the goodness of God, then that will be our collective heartbeat as the Church. When we become generous and gracious people, our faith will be known as a generous and gracious faith. That doesn’t mean that Christianity won’t still be criticized, just as it was thousands of years ago; but it does mean that it will continue to grow despite that criticism…souls will continue to be saved against the greatest odds. So the question we must ask ourselves is, “Is my heartbeat to show others the goodness of God?” Is this more important to me than being right, being heard, or being understood?
Dear God, thank You for the example of the early believers. Please continue to change me until my greatest desire is to show others Your goodness. In Your name I pray, amen.