Acts 4:32-37 explains how the Early Church praticed their economic policy. All the believers held possessions in common – including land, and because of this, the passage explains that no one among them had any needs that were not met.
Today, within the Church in general, and outside the Christian community, the world is full of needy people. Even more, the entire world is currently facing economic troubles which have increased the needs of both poor persons and those who before got along with little or no problems. Like in the time of the Early Church, the government cannot meet the needs of every citizen – this includes sustanance, housing and health care. The solution for these problems in the Early Church was simple – hold everything in common, and when someone needs something, it is there. Truly, there was no more rich or poor, just believers. Those who had possessions enabled those without to live and survive. This was truly an act of love – following the commandment to “love thy neighbor as yourself,” and to “love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strenght,” for by loving each other, the in turned loved Christ.
Today in the Church, however, this is not the case. The Church, in general, as conformed to the capitalistic framework of the world. Yes, it is obvious that churches need money and other possessions to survive, but instead of the believers holding everything in common – thus enabling the church to function – churches now have to depend fully on the giving of individuals and possibly selling items, such as books, artwork, cds, and other devotional materials. Do not misunderstand me, I am not saying that tithes, offerings, and alms are not important, what I am saying is that for the Early Church it was not necessary – believers did not give a tenth plus offerings, they gave everything, even selling off land so they could be free to join and live within the Christian community.
Does this mean that the current way the Church, in general, functions is wrong? For me the answer is yes. Instead of begging people for money, believers should be begging the Church to take not only their money, but their time and other resources as well. Instead of ministers living in expensive houses, driving expensive cars, etc, they should be using what they need, and returning the “extra” to the Christian community, as well as ministering to those who are not yet believers – in other words, true evangelism. Instead of being apart except on Sundays and Wednesdays, the believers should truly function as a seperate community – fellowshiping, “breaking bread,” etc – as well as completely support one another. Instead of selling sermons on cd and in books, the Word of God, and the revelations received from God concerning His Word, should be given freely, and readily available to the masses of believers.
How do we change the current course? I do not know, yet it begins with an acknowledgement that the Church does need to change. Should we worry that this mindset goes against the current majority mindset of the world? No, for instead of conforming to the world, the Church must keep her own standards and follow them. By conforming to the world in the economic arena, the Church has opened herself up to conforming to the world in other ways, and by doing so, has brought even more division within herself. By following the model of the Church in Acts, the Church and her believers can once again enjoy true economic freedom.