When I was young, every year, every kid in the little community where I lived would receive a red net stocking filled with hard candy, fruit, nuts, and candy canes. There were four kids in my family. My mom would take the four stockings, empty them out on the table, then separate the items into groups, and the whole family would share the bounty. The fruit often went first, I didn’t care much for that old ribbon hard candy, but I loved the butterscotch bits. The nuts seemed to last forever in a bowl on the coffee table in the living room. I didn’t want to work that hard shelling the thing for such a tiny nut. The giant peppermint candy cane though, now that was something else. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories.
When I tell this story, some people today immediately feel sorry for me, since in their minds, they believe I grew up in a communist family. That’s their interpretation of the sharing process my mother instilled in us kids. But there is a big difference in Communism, and having all things in common, where everyone’s needs are met in excess.
And here’s the thing.
It wasn’t something my mother just dreamed up on her own. She was just modeling for us what she knew to be true in the Bible about how we are supposed to live. For your consideration, I offer these insightful verses from Acts 2:41-47 as translated in The Message, by Eugene Peterson. This was the birth of the first “church” and displays the nature of transformed lives.
They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.
This was the immediate response of the 3,000+ people who became true Christ-followers after Peter preached to the crowd gathered in the streets of Jerusalem at Pentecost. They were hungry for truth, so the focused on the apostles’ teaching. They found a new level of intimate relationship with each other in Christ. Every meal they shared together was a celebration of life. But most importantly, they prayed about everything.
In 21 days we celebrate the birth of Messiah, the Christ, born Jesus of Nazareth. Every time I hear the story, or read the story for myself, I’m moved again by the power of a baby growing into manhood, making the only sacrifice that could accomplish this kind of change in people. Our world today needs this kind of transformation. Our world today still needs this kind of Savior.
Our world today, needs Jesus.