If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth—we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin. (I John 1:7)
A shared life with one another - what does that really look like? We might just have to admit most of us don't know how to live this 'shared life' very well, but we want to at least give it our best attempt. Anything shared means we participate in, enjoy, and receive something 'jointly'. There isn't any room for 'me' or 'mine'. That is possibly the hardest thing for some who enter into the faith - for all of life has been about what is theirs, with them at the center of their world. When we come into this relationship with Christ, it is Christ himself stated in the Garden of Gethsemane: "Father, not my will, but thine be done." (Luke 22:41-42)
A shared life with Jesus calls for a shared life with one another. I know the early Christian church had a way of sharing all things in common. 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. (Acts 2:43-47) If we were to even suggest that each believer sell whatever they owned and pooled their resources today, we'd likely be labeled a cult!
This shared walk with Jesus is really exemplified in how the believers gave of themselves, changing their focus for 'me' to 'we'. Living in harmony with one another is the key concept we may not want to focus on, but if we are to live a shared life it begins with laying down our own agendas. The early church had to meet in homes, sharing meals together was a natural part of the 'church meeting', as a result. They had to travel distances, so allowing one to lodge a night or two in your residence was a natural thing. It wasn't just the pooling of resources - it was the willingness to do whatever it took to grow as believers.
Perhaps this is where we can best find our lesson today - in learning how to do whatever it takes to help each other grow in this faith we call Christianity. It isn't going to happen if we are so focused on 'us' that we forget there is a bigger 'we' that needs our help to grow. The pattern of coming together frequently, sharing the Word of God, and worshipping together is 'growth-inducing'. In other words, we need each other to grow - we need the resources each other brings to the table - not just financial, but spiritual, emotional, and developed wisdom. Just sayin!
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