Making Christian Connections
In the first century, since there was no Social Security, unemployment payments, Medicare, Medicaid or welfare people who were destitute or out of work or aged or ill, they had to depend on the charity of others. Sometimes their family could help them, but sometimes the whole family was in trouble and had to depend on friends or even strangers. The Christians in the first century took care of each other during these difficult times. There was a famine in Judea and Christians from all over sent aid to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. People like Barnabas sold land to help provide for the needs of other Christians. Take a closer look at Acts 2:41-47; 4:31-37 and 6:1-3. After reading those sections a few times honestly ask yourself if that sounds like the congregation where you attend. All things common, none considered possessions theirs, daily food distribution to widows, selling things to give more, being in daily fellowship and study, etc. Some people think it sounds like Communism and it scares them, but the fact is that it is New Testament Christianity and an aspect of it that we have lost touch with because government programs have taken the place of Christians caring for one another. However, we need to return to this way of thinking and acting as one large extended family, and may soon be forced to either do so or allow the church to be destroyed.
How far would you be willing to go to help your brethren. Would we be like the man described by James that says, ‘be warmed and filled’, or perhaps one who says, ‘I’m praying for you’, but does nothing? Would you allow a widow, an orphan, or a homeless family to live with you for a time? Would you make sure everyone in the church had food each day? Would you give one of your cars to someone who had none? Would you sell something to help a fellow Christian have something they need? These things seem extreme in the land of plenty where Americans live. Here aside from some who truly have had some serious physical or mental handicaps people who are poor to the point of not having the necessities of life are in that position because of choices they have made. Drugs, alcohol, other addictions, dropping out of school, criminal activity, laziness, attitude of entitlement, etc. The Bible certainly does not encourage the support of sinful choices, but things can change quickly and good Christian people could be in a position of losing their means of support. The financial condition of the United States could bring reductions or even elimination of some of the social programs that many depend upon. How many older Christians, orphaned children, widows or those with handicaps are receiving Social Security or SSI benefits? How would they get by without it? Will the church step up and sacrifice houses, land, cars, possessions for necessities of their brethren.
We must instill in our children and ourselves a desire to have the kind of relationship with other Christians that would drive us to sacrifice for them. I am not talking about supporting deadbeats, that is condemned in scripture, but those who are truly in need. Are you closer to physical family members who are not Christians or Christians who are not physical family members? Jesus said those who do God’s will are His family members and we need to think the same way.
So far we have only considered economic reasons for need, but let’s be honest, persecution would certainly cause Christians to have needs. What if Christians were actively persecuted? Not necessarily with beatings or killings even, but what if someone was fired for refusing to do something sinful? What if Christians were excluded from benefits like Social Security. In India a Christian cannot be buried unless the church has some land and a cemetery. In the Roman empire at one point in time you could not do business in the marketplace unless you had offered sacrifice to their gods and had proof of it. In Nazi Germany, Jews were marked, were fired from jobs, had their possessions stolen (confiscated) and ultimately were executed. Here in America the Indians were forced off the land and black people were sold as property, separated from their children and families, etc. For any who would say, ‘that can’t happen here’; I say, ‘Wake up!’ It can and I expect will happen in my lifetime. In fact, I would suggest that it is already starting to happen in some places. Have you seen the video by Ben Stein called Expelled? It describes cases of scientists who lost their jobs right here in America because the believed in design rather than evolution. That movie is several years old now. There was a substitute teacher banned because a student asked about his Bible and he gave it to the student. Some would say these are isolated events and perhaps that is true . . . for now. Paul told Timothy that evil men would get worse and that is the trajectory of our society today. Back to the question. How much would you do to help your fellow Christians? Locally? Nationally? Internationally? - jp