Drive-by Scripture, Acts 4:31-37

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 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 had need. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), old a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 4, verses 31-37, New International Version)

I would like every Christian fundamentalist who goes on and on about the evils of social service programs, the peril of socialized medicine and the like to read the above passage and then kindly, shut the hell up.

I find it incredibly annoying how many Christians will say, “But that’s not the government doing that in the Bible. It was Christians. I’m all for Christians and churches giving out help, but not the government with my taxes!”

And yet, two things are so abudantly clear.

First, churches are generally unable, and often unwilling, to help at the kind of levels needed to ensure that families have healthcare and other basic necessities when they can’t afford them (and who can these days?). Individual Christians, too, often the very ones who spout the rhetoric I just exemplified above, also don’t provide the necessary levels of support to do these things.

Second, these are often the very same Christians who have no problem with our tax dollars being spent to wage war on nations for no particularly good reason, and to occupy them for years after the original conflict has ended. These are often also the people who call upon government to craft laws in line with the Bible.

Because, you know, government should enforce God’s will when it’s punitive or to rein in our behaviors, but Heaven forbid that it should get involved with the more important Christian principles of mercy, love, comfort and help.

6 thoughts on “Drive-by Scripture, Acts 4:31-37

  1. dani

    Hi, good post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for posting. I’ll definitely be coming back to your site.

  2. Seda

    Well said, Deke!

    ‘Course, what they’re describing here is communism. And ultimately, that experiment didn’t work.

    Nevertheless, the principle you describe is exactly right. Churches have an ulterior motive that mitigates and corrupts their charity – and anyway, what they typically give is charity – a handout, not a hand. Individuals usually don’t have the resources. Those that do mostly got that way because they’re scared and “need” to hang onto their zillions, and not share. When they do share, they usually have agendas that limit their generosity to those who meet that agenda.

    Government, on the other hand, has the resources, and (in a free country) can be held accountable. We haven’t seen it in this country, much for awhile – something to do with 28 years of Republican rule, no doubt (I consider Clinton a pro-choice Republican.)

  3. Deacon Blue

    You’re right that the early church’s model was more communistic. One could argue that all churches probably still should be, but it’s not gonna happen.

    Communism can work socially and politically, but I don’t believe it can do so on a society-wide scale.

    It’s well-suited to small, committed groups. Possibly even well-suited to, say, a town of small or modest size.

    But get to large town/city size or above, and it becomes totally unworkable, I think.

  4. Seda

    I think you’re right about the level to which communism works, Deke. However, I think there is an additional component, which is culture. In a culture such as, say, the Navaho, where there is no concept of owning land and no class division, it can probably work at a larger level. In ours, where there is a long history of political hierarchy, class division, and land is a commodity to be cut up, bought, and sold, it may not even work on a small town level. The Navaho culture is also matrilineal, whereas we are patrilineal – and I think that makes a difference. (If anyone here knows more about the Navaho culture than I, and I’m getting stuff wrong here, please correct me.)

    In any case, this political/economic digression doesn’t take anything away from the point you made on your post. which is right on.

  5. Deacon Blue

    Good point, Seda. I was indeed operating from a standpoint of the cultures with which I am most aware, which tend toward making money, hoarding money, industrializing, etc.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>