Monday, May 07, 2007

No need...

"There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them. brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he has need." - ACTS 4: 34-35


Colin said...

I bet those people regretted their brash and short sighted move in a few years when they were no longer capable of work. If they really wanted to give to paul's ministry they would have been better off to rent out the property and donate the proceeds.

This kind of silly action only makes sense if you truly believe that it is only a few days / week/months before the end of the world. Anything longer than that and you'll wish you had equity to build off of and an inheritance to pass on to your children.

If I didn't know any better I would say that the NT teachers discouraged land ownership and encouraged poverty lifestyle - seems contrary to the OT teaching about the good life. (eg: sharing out of prosperity to benefit all)

just my 2 cents

Paul Morgun said...

Hey Colin, well obviously I disagree, I guess here is my thinking, the money that was given and brought before the apostles feet likely John and Peter's who Luke is recording so far (Paul/Saul is not in the picture of ministry yet) was distributed "to anyone as he needed" this social movement to me anyways reflects the change that happens when people encounter Jesus. This action was from time to time, and voluntary, people were moved to give so others and would be taken care of.

I guess I would say that the exegesis of the passage would be that Luke is showing that the fullness of the Holy Spirit in peoples lives leads not only to words but action as well. Love for one another and the world, to fight poverty and injustice...Luke is describing a closely knit group who 'were together' 'in fellowship' and were 'one in heart and mind' its a picture of a true community.

I don't know if I want to get on a huge debate on this Colin, I know where you are coming from and you are being a 'realist'. I do think though that this is a noble calling to help those in need, to give sacrificially and its hardly silly.
Is it backwards economics yeah it is...last shall be first, king washing a servants feet, and so much more...I think you know this so I am not going to dwell on it. Lastly I don't think at all that NT discourages land ownership, (when I write this I think you know me well enough that I am not arguing for my rights to own anything) I do think NT writers are encouraging a heart after Jesus not wealth, possessions, and so on...

Thanks for your two cents Colin, this journey that we are on I think has more questions than answers thanks for your thoughts.

Colin said...

I don't disagree that it is a noble calling to help those in need. In fact I believe this is a social responsibility to help the poor. However, I believe that we need to do this responsibly, which I think this example is not a good example of. This example meets the immediate needs, but hurts everyone in the long term when this money evaporates. If everyone sold their houses, then everyone will be poor eventually.

Most para churches have been hesitant on investing income and saving donations for this reason which of course has caught many churches and para church organizations with a hugh deficit when income is reduced.

Another factor here is that this is a pre-feudal / feudal system. This type of activity is not sustainable in a post-industrial economy. It simply doesn't work in a modern open-democratic economy.

Anyway, my point is simply that the wrong lesson can be taken from this teaching. It would have been a much greater story if these people converted their houses into hostels and aided the poor this way.

Paul Morgun said...

How we give and help others may look different then it did then...the idea here is they gave sacrificially, again not all, and not all the time.

I think it would be ok to suspect that each was provided for, in this social community. I don't think there is an encouragement in this passage for all to sell, but rather that the Holy Spirit moved some to give generously and sacrificially. I would also suspect that those that gave were also taken care of within the community so that there was no need. As Luke claims 'there was no needy persons among them.' The lesson here is NOT to sell everything but rather, to love your neighbors sacrificially,, as Christ loved us. There are many ways we can do that. Your example of hostels is a good one.

Plainly said I think you can take a wrong lesson from any passage of the Bible, my point in posting the quote was simple: The encounter with Jesus had led people to love and give. This kind of love that was shown in the early church for one another, the love for the poor and desire to restore the people to dignity is clear in this passage. Ans is a good lesson for us...

Again thanks for your thoughts.