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Acts 4:32-37, The Believers Share Their Possessions

Saturday, May 26

Leveling the Playing Field

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

leveling the playing field

When I was younger, we had a private school in town that required that the kids wear a uniform every day. Being a free spirit, I had a hard time understanding and accepting it. To my eyes, it looked like squashing freedom of expression and promoting unquestioning conformity. But then my mom pointed out a reality I had not considered. By requiring all students to wear the same outfit, they eliminated the power differential that comes from the rich wearing expensive clothing and the poor wearing hand-me-downs. It leveled the playing field, at least when it came to clothes. It made sense. (Although I was still extremely glad I had the freedom to express myself through my clothing! ;D )

The hierarchies of the culture at the time of the early church were quite extreme. The rich were afforded all kinds of luxuries and power, while the poor were at the mercy of the rich. (I guess it's not so different today, is it?) To combat this power differential, the early Christians pooled all their resources. The rich sold their land and other property, and gave it to the community of faith. The poor were able to access the money to buy food and other needs. Their efforts leveled the playing field. 

How does your congregation level the playing field? Who serves on your Council? Who shows up for cleaning weekends? How are the big donors honored for their service? Where might your congregation still need work to ensure that all the members of your community are provided for and given a voice?

Narrative Lectionary Text: Acts 4:32-37

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. There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.