Lectionary for April 7, 2024
Second Sunday of Easter
Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133;
1 John 1:1–2:2; John 20:19-31

We have a rule in our family—after a birthday or Christmas, the toys you receive are yours alone for 24 hours. After that “all our toys are for all our boys” (I have all sons). Anyone can play with any toy at any time, providing that someone is not already playing with it. This has proven to be a difficult rule to promote and enforce with my kids. It’s a difficulty that makes total sense to me. We want everyone else to share with us, but we don’t want to share with everyone else. This week’s lectionary readings are all about developing fellowship through sharing.

I just love when Acts is incorporated into the lectionary. This is probably the most important book of the Bible for the church. The first generations after the Resurrection practiced what it meant to be Christ’s body and witnesses here on earth while they waited for Jesus’ imminent return.

An essential part of being one body together was that not one person considered anything belonging to her or him as their own (Acts 4:32). Instead, all goods and land were held as common property, ready to be sold to provide for others as needed. This isn’t “enforced socialism” from the outside, as some critics warn. Instead, the conviction of the Spirit in the heart of each believer led to a shift in perspective about worldly goods. No one even considered private ownership. The idea of “what’s mine should stay mine” is ridiculous in light of the gospel.

But the earliest church didn’t just renounce wealth, as later Christians would do. Instead, people held property in order to make sure that they could provide for others when needed. Jesus announced his ministry, in the words of Isaiah 61, by saying that he had come to bring good news to the poor (Luke 4:16-21). The practice of commonwealth in Acts was certainly at least part of that Gospel.

The conviction of the Spirit in the heart of each believer led to a shift in perspective about worldly goods.

Thinking about common ownership of property isn’t idle speculation for me. I have a new call to a center focused on integrating faith and entrepreneurship. I can’t help but reflect on how people from different backgrounds and ethnicities got excited about this new Jesus venture and put their treasure where their heart was (Matthew 6:21). When was the last time you were so excited about something that you threw your money and time at it? Was it early in a dating relationship? I’ve seen people devote serious time and finances to beloved, but struggling, congregations. Maybe you throw all your time and finances into kids’ sports (traveling hockey, right?).

The point is, we know what it means to love someone or something so much that we devote an outsized proportion of time, talents and resources to it. So did the early church. And the thing they loved was the assembly of God’s people—so much so that they were “of one heart and mind.”

The unity of the body of Christ is not found only in Acts. The short Psalm 133 rejoices at oneness of family members. “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” proclaims the psalmist. The author of 1 John shared his convictions and experience so readers would share fellowship with him, just as all Christians share fellowship with God the Father and Jesus the Messiah (1:3-4). It’s this sense of shared convictions leading to fellowship that underlines this week’s Gospel reading.

When we share, when we put our treasure where our hearts are, we develop fellowship and oneness that Jesus desires.

Even the framing of the Gospels is a lesson in sharing and commonwealth. As a resurrected Jesus appeared to some disciples, others were away and missed it. Jesus returned to give others the opportunity to see and believe. The postscript of John’s Gospel is particularly important for framing Jesus’ appearances:

“So then, many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20:30-31; New American Standard Bible).

The Gospel writer makes a point to say that these stories have been shared so others may come to believe. The writer took experiences that properly belonged to the disciples and gave them to the rest of the world. I’m sure Thomas did/does not enjoy the repetition of the story of his obstinate refusal to believe unless he received the same encounter with the risen Jesus as the rest of the disciples. Yet, what was his is shared with us so that we can believe without seeing (John 20:29).

Belonging to the one body of Jesus means that we are interconnected and share, even when we don’t want to. When we share, when we put our treasure where our hearts are, we develop fellowship and oneness that Jesus desires so that “they may all be one; just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me” (John 17:21).

Cory Driver
Cory Driver is the director of L.I.F.E. (Leading the Integration of Faith and Entrepreneurship) at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. His book on wilderness spirituality, Life Unsettled, is available from Fortress Press.

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