All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. Acts 4:32-35
This text sounds like a utopia, and there is something beautiful about human beings living like this fledgling church. Luke includes this story for multiple reasons. The apparent historical reason is easy to see; it’s an account of how God moved in the church when it started. The less obvious reason requires a deeper understanding of the entire scriptural narrative, a deeper understanding that Luke’s readers would have.
What the early church is doing is not a strange new idea. God’s desire for his people had always been that they would be a “kingdom of priests” (Ex. 19:6). In other words, the Israelites were supposed to broker relationships between God and all of the world’s nations. Here in Acts, we find all the nations descending on Jerusalem and encountering the presence of God in and through the early church. The church was doing what the physical temple had failed to do. Luke is pitting the physical temple of Jerusalem against the spiritual temple of the church. Which temple is most accurately fulfilling God’s heart for the world?
The leaders over the physical temple were attempting to get the leaders of the spiritual temple to stop doing miracles and teaching in the name of Jesus. They were opposing the renewal that God intended the temple to bring.
If you are a follower of Jesus, you are a member of God’s church. You are a spiritual temple of God. Just like this early church, we are invited to be the place where people encounter the living God. We carry God’s presence in us, and that presence is meant to be shared; it is not a private shrine where we alone can worship. Take a moment to listen to this song. Maybe you can pray the lyrics of the chorus. Ask God to make himself known through you.
By Aaron Bjorklund