Discipleship as a Community
"All the believers (disciples) were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had." Acts 4: 32
Though many followed Jesus during his earthly life, we really only know about twelve disciples and their life with Jesus. In the book of Acts a significant change took place. The twelve were known as Apostles because Jesus appointed them as such. (Mark 3:14) The Apostles were limited to these twelve disciples. These men, rich in their experiences with Jesus, were the theological school upon which the Church was built.
The Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and through Him, became the power of the early Church. Acts 2:47 tells us that the Lord, through the effective working of the Holy Spirit and the authoritative witness of the Apostles, added daily to the number of Christ followers. They numbered in the thousands and grew exponentially. This band of new disciples followed the Apostles as they had followed Jesus. They had the same Spirit. They had the same Lord. They had the same experience of redemption. They formed a community of faith. This community was marked by their common love, devotion and sacrifice for one another. They literally became one unit. They were not demonstrating a new social order of non- ownership of goods, but rather a communal sharing of all that they owned. It doesn't say that they stopped ownership, but rather, they stopped entitlement to ownership as an exclusive privilege. They shared what they had freely because they saw themselves as one.
John the Apostle writes in 1 John chapter 3 that the true disciple is marked by love for the brothers (other disciples) and this love is marked by genuine, sharing of what we own. "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him (meeting that need) how can the love of God be in him?" vs. 17 What a great question! John did not seem to believe that these kind of closed hearted people were Disciples of Christ at all.
Our observation is that if we are Christ’s disciples, we are never truly alone. We are always surrounded by other disciples. That is what being in community is all about. We share with one another. What are we to share? Everything! That is what the Church is called to.
The AGC is a community of disciples, now spreading around the world. We will celebrate this community in a special way at the National Conference next month in London, Ontario, but friends, we must share in this community everyday and in every way.
This month as we pray, let's keep our eyes, ears and hearts open to each other.