Peace I Give You!
“The community of believers were of one heart and one mind. None of them ever claimed anything as his own; rather everything was held in common. With power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great respect was paid to them all; nor was there anyone needy among them, for all who owned property or houses sold them and donated the proceeds. They used to lay them at the feet of the apostles to be distributed to everyone according to his need” (Acts 4:32-35).
What a utopian picture that paints of the early Christian community. Can you imagine one iota of the hue and cry that would arise in our country today if ideas like that were to be suggested or implemented? I’m sure there are religious communities where that sharing still exists, but our world today would find that so counter-cultural that very few would think it even feasible. Just listen to the political pundits who excoriate any candidates who suggest we should take care of one another as “radical socialists.”
And yet, here is the early band of Jesus’ followers giving us an example of how the Christian community should behave toward one another. Are we even paying attention? Could this be what Jesus was speaking of when Nicodemus came to him in the night? Nicodemus attested that Jesus had come from God because “No man can perform signs and wonders such as you perform unless God is with him” (John 3: 2). Jesus’ answer was to tell Nicodemus what it means to be born of the spirit – to be born again in Spirit and in truth. This is the story that precedes today’s reading.
Today Jesus tells us: “The One who comes from heaven testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony… For the One whom God has sent speaks the words of God; he does not ration his gift of the Spirit. … Whoever believes in the Son has life eternal. Whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure the wrath of God” (John 3:34-36).
The early Christian community described in Acts certainly believed the Son has life eternal and that what he had taught was true. The Sermon on the Mount made very clear what God expects of those followers who want to live forever in heaven: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked - we well know the list. That is precisely what we hear described in today’s reading from Acts. That is what we are called to in our own time.
As we celebrate the Easter Season in more isolation than we like, perhaps we are feeling the same fear that the Apostles felt in the Upper Room after the Resurrection, not sure of what was to come. We must hear all the Scripture exhortations: Be not afraid! There are at least 365 times that Scripture reminds us not to be afraid, at least one for each day of the year! And we do know that the Holy Spirit does come, bringing us peace of mind and spirit as we wait in hope!
May you and all your dear families find health and healing in the turmoil of our lives. May the peace that can only come from the heart of Jesus be with each of us.