A Community of Love
All who believed were together and had all things in common – Acts 2:44
One of the greatest champions of human rights in our own time, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, believes “we can be human only in fellowship, in community, in koinonia, in peace.”
Our species thrives not in isolation but in relationship–in social groups, in tribes, in fellow ship, in community. I must confess that i am not always pleased with this notion. I find myself drawn to the solitary life, envisioning some remote heritage where I am freed from the daily round of social responsibilities.
But when I am honest with myself, I admit that I too am a social animal. I am part of a community of Christian friends at my local church, and when we are working as we should, we find ourselves involved in a set of relationships of mutual benefit. When we see others in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity, we try to help as best we can. And when we are the one in need, which happens more often than we care to admit, we find others reaching out to us with helping hands.
The tables are turned; the healers become those in need of healing; and those who are healed offer the healing touch in return. That is the way to live in community.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus speaks of the kingdom of heaven, a realm in which relationships are founded on a mutuality of giving and receiving. Christ teaches that our loving Creator loves us with an unconditional love–a free and undeserved gift we call the grace of God. We are to open ourselves to receive that love and then, in response, love the Lord with our whole being and love our neighbour as we love ourselves. It is a community of love continually flowing, connecting us to God and to our fellow creatures.
Christ calls us to join this community, this kingdom of his on earth as it is in heaven. During the final evening he shares with his disciples, he explains once again the mutuality of giving and receiving that is the essence of the kingdom of God. He washes the feet of his disciples and says, “If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washes your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”
The Book of Acts portrays the early church as a place where the ethos of mutual sharing is fundamental” “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.”
Jesus teaches us the kind of community in which we are to live. With a loving spirit, we are to reach out to those in need; and with a humble spirit, we are to accept help from others when we are the ones in need.
Rawls, J. J. On the Way: 100 Reflections on the Journey of Faith. WestBow Press. Kindle Edition.