The hungry, the ill-clothed, the poorly sheltered, the orphan are at long last becoming more visible to the American public. While urgent needs have existed just beyond our doorsteps for years, it has taken a brutal war, severe famines, and recession to bring human needs to the fore. While the urgency of these are still hammering at our consciences, it is well for Christians to begin re-evaluating our response—our reasons and patterns for sharing.
The tack often followed in a quest for a Christian economic policy has been to focus on relevant passages in the New Testament—and rightly so. Yet, one of the passages that is key to our understanding of monetary responsibility has suffered a history of misinterpretation and disregard. That passage is the early chapters of Acts, which reveal the sharing among Christians of the early Jerusalem community. A proper understanding of this initial corporate response to need can provide the 20th-century Christian with principles by which to direct the formation of our responses. ...
One of the most obvious but perhaps most important lessons of this community was that spiritual commitment was not isolated from the material. The positive aspect of “believing” necessitated a negation of false securities, such as wealth, social status, and false religious piety. ... It is only in the self-imposed simplifications of our lives that the meeting of needs, the closeness of community, and the joy of having one’s securities in God begin to dawn.
Diane MacDonald was a contributing editor for The Post-American, the original Sojourners.