Funding the Mission
“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.” – Acts 4:32-35
Greetings, fellow disciples of Jesus,
In the earliest days of the Church—indeed, when Church history could be counted in weeks and not centuries—the Church looked very different from how it does today (or almost any time since those early days!). The Church was a community of believers who shared everything they had in common.
Some have looked at the description from Acts given above and equated it with Communism. Such a one might say, “Look at how they did not claim private ownership of anything.” But if we look carefully, we can see that there was no coercion involved here, no government mandate that made it so.
The believers were simply living out what they understood to be a faithful and free response to the good news of Christ Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. In light of all that Christ had done for them, how could they withhold from their brothers and sisters anything that might give them aid? And there could have been much need, had these believers not responded as they did.
Thousands of faithful Jews had come to Jerusalem from every corner of the Roman Empire and beyond for the Jewish festival of Pentecost. They had not planned on an extended stay in the city, but when they heard the gospel preached by Peter and the other eyewitnesses of the Resurrection, they stayed on to learn more. With the resources they had brought with them running out, they would have needed to head for home had it not been for the remarkable response of the Church.
The generosity of those who sold land and houses permitted these pilgrims to remain in the city and be catechized by the Apostles. In time these pilgrims returned to their far-flung homes, bearing with them the good news of Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. The seeds of the gospel were sown throughout the ancient world.
You and I are recipients of the fruit of the plants grown from those seeds. God provided for each generation of believers to hear the gospel through the generosity of those who gave of themselves to fund that mission. How is God calling you and I to be so generous, that others may hear and believe this good news?
In gratitude for the generosity of those who have gone before us, and for your own generosity,