Inspired by Bernie Sanders’ bold, cohesive vision for an America without poverty, I turned to the church and asked, “What is Your Response?” After all, when we take a step back and look at what the Church in Acts was trying to do, it seems that they were stamping out poverty in their communities and calling wealthy members to literally sell everything they had for that mission. Acts 2:44-46 “All the believers were united and shared everything. They would sell pieces of property and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them….” Acts 4:32-35 “The community of believers was as of one heart and mind… an abundance of grace was at work among them. There were no needy persons among them. Those who owned properties or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds from the sale, and place them in the care and under the authority of the apostles…”
It sounds crazy, but so is paying $2500 per month to live in a home the size of a postage stamp and we do that all the time in the New York Metro Area. Community can lead people to do radical, strange, or brave things. Is it the church’s role to eliminate greed at the top and poverty at the bottom? Or is this a topic best left to the realm of secular politics? When does my duty to the church end and my civic responsibility begin? How do I allocate my resources, both in terms of time and money? This isn’t about a specific political party or candidate. I’m not even asking for explicit answers, but rather for a framework of scripture in which to wrestle through these questions.
So far – pretty disheartening. The Century of the Self has seeped into more than our wallets and television sets. For the next few weeks, I will be breaking down common arguments used by members of the American church to defend the fact that the modern American church today does not demand of its members the kind of outrageous generosity and bold vision that defined its 1st/2nd century ancestor.