All Your Needs
Rev Felicity O’Brien, sermon for youth service 23 September 2012, St Christopher’s Tawa. All rights reserved.
There’s a neat picture in the book of Acts, about how Christian life can look. Let me read it to you :
Act 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Act 2:43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles.
Act 2:44 All who believed were together and had all things in common;
Act 2:45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.
Act 2:46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts,
Act 2:47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Now this is right at the beginning of the church, straight after the Holy Spirit had fallen on thousands of people. This is the first generation, Gen A, if you like.There are a couple of things that jump out: All who believed were together and had all things in common. They would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.
Now what does that mean? Any ideas? I think that it means that there was a sort of communal ownership, a sharing of resources. Those who had more shared it with those who went without. Now why is this passage important to us, here in Tawa in the 21st century? Is it a challenge to you, to radically re-think how you do ‘stuff’?
If you’ve grown up with a little brother or sister, you’ll know what it’s like to guard your stuff. When you were little, and you lined up your cars the way you wanted them, the last thing that would have pleased you was little sis coming in and crashing them all. Your stuff was Your Stuff, and no one was allowed to touch it. As you got older, the stuff was different, but in our world, there’s a really strong sense of ownership of what we have, and guarding it.
Compare this to the first century, Gen A Christians. They didn’t hold on to their stuff! Other things were more important than things. Maybe people were more important.There’s a message for all of us here about a radically different way of living the Christian life, a way that values people more than stuff, more than things. The early Christians had a different focus in their life.
Now we know that it was a completely different context. They didn’t even have electricity, let alone Facebook. Technology has moved so fast that even in one generation it has expanded so far scientists couldn’t even dream of it! Now, I’m not completely ancient, in spite of what my son who’s sitting there is about to say. I was a kid in the 70s, and we didn’t have much technology then. We did have TV, but it was black and white, and only had one channel, which only ran for about 6 hours a day. That’s not so long ago, but the change is huge.
But some things never change. People are still people, still have the same emotions, desires and dreams, and can still hurt and need. How can we change our priorities to put each other first? What can we let go of so we can let people in? Maybe social networks are good for keeping in touch with people, but my question is, do they go deep enough? Or are they just ways of sharing information, rather than deep emotions?
Are there other ways you as the community of the youth of Tawa Anglican can share everything? I know some of you share movies and things you’ve downloaded, and games. Maybe that’s a way of helping each other and sharing resources. I’ve heard about the way you share food at the Lounge – now that’s much closer to what the guys in the Acts church were doing. Bringing in food or money and making a meal together is a beautiful way of sharing your resources to bless each other.
Have a think –are there other ways you can help each other? First, identify the needs. These can be simple material needs, like borrowing stuff from each other, but how about emotional needs, such as someone who will listen to you when you’re really upset. Or spiritual needs – someone who can talk with you about God and the big questions. There’s a real challenge to you as a Christian community to follow the example from the Bible, and get really deep with each other. Be there for each other, supporting and available. It’s a beautiful way to be.
And this will have results – as you put people ahead of stuff, you will be blessed with deep, meaningful relationships, – and I don’t just mean “couple” stuff, which will start to spill over into how you act in the rest of your life.
When we read the passage from the bible, it seemed like most of their time back in the day was taken up with praising and learning about God, and fellowshipping together, – with church stuff, if you like. These days there are other things that need to be done, like school, and study, and work, and family. But putting people first can spill over from your church life into every aspect of your life. Valuing each person you come in contact with, even if they’re really annoying, or you have a history of tension with them, is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit! You will start to see how following Christ makes a real difference in every aspect of your life – Jesus loves everyone, but he can’t be here in the flesh now, so he has sent his holy spirit to fill all of us who follow him, and our job is to be little Jesuses, treating other people as he would. Love, not mocking. Compassion, not judgment. Caring, not teasing.
Can you see how people like this could transform the world?