Going Deeper 04.07.2021

The first reading for Easter 2... Acts 4:32-35

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

We have heard the term "socialism" a lot in the news and conversations around our country.  While I agree that top-down, government-imposed efforts to control and redistribute wealth is not the American way, and socialistic efforts have led to oppressive regimes in various times and places, the descriptions of the earliest post-Easter followers of Jesus does seem to describe a different kind of socialism-- a grassroots, voluntary redistribution of wealth.  What we see here is a practicing of radical generosity exercised in freedom and love.

Throughout the entire Biblical narrative God has expressed His desire for the poor, the homeless, and the oppressed to be taken care of... by His people!  The concept of "social ministry" has been an important part of the Church throughout the generations.  God calls His children to respond to His grace and blessings upon them by having a very deep and active compassion for others.

This is where I have been led to see "tithing" as theologically problematic.  What we hear of in our text from Acts is far more radical.  I believe we are called to manage the time, talent, and treasure God has entrusted to us in such a way as to be a blessing to as many beloved children of God as possible.  If our pursuit of luxury and leisure far outpaces our practice of compassionate generosity, then we are missing out on the rediscovery of how we were created to live-- outwardly focused.  It is a great blessing to use our blessings to be a blessing to others!

Of course, this is not to be 'legislated' in a top-down manner in the church as well, but a movement among the 'grassroots' to respond to love with love.

With You in His Love,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"