Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What if...sharing was a way of life


Recently it was my birthday and one of my co-workers was asking me questions about being a twin. "Did it bother you to share a birthday cake?" she wanted to know. "Did your mom try and make sure you had an equal amount of presents?" I had to stumble through an answer because the questions seemed foreign to me. When you're born as one of multiples, sharing is just what life is all about. How lucky I feel to have always shared cake and candles, and to have the joy of buying someone else a gift on my birthday.

In Acts 4:32 it says, "All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had." I feel such joy when I read that, but honestly, some hesitation too. I'm not used to sharing on such a scale as that, and yet - where would my heart be if I did?

Shane Claiborne is one of the "new monastics", those who live as Christ followers in community with one another, and also with the poor. How radical it seems to many of us to live communally with each other. And yet through Claiborne's writings I sense a life in Christ so much deeper and richer than what I usually experience on my own. As Claiborne says, "The vision of Jesus is not spread through organizational structures, but through touch, breath, shared life. It is spread through people who have discovered love."

I am not at the place Claiborne and other new monastics are at. Not yet at least. And yet I find myself changing as I devote myself to my church body and community group, and keep my focus on Christ. Sometimes now when I have a little extra money, instead of wondering what I should do with it, I wonder who else might need some of it. So I'm wondering today what if sharing became not something I did occasionally, but something I lived mostly? What if chronic and constant sharing opened up my heart so much that I was consumed by the love of Christ, consumed with love for all God's children, consumed with helping others in this world? What if?

9 comments:

Sheri said...

Anne,

I,too, have pondered Acts 2. I love the idea of this way of living. No social classes, because we all share our bounty.

People coming to the aid of others. People loving others. People accepting others. People being Christ to others.

I sometimes wish we could institute that model for living. When did "church" become "church?" Why can't we just be people gathering to love each other and love Christ?

When I think back on the 60's I'm not so sure that the "hippie" population was that far off base. How ironic it is that they were modeling Acts 2 (in theory.) Bucking the system, standing up for their beliefs. (Does this sound familiar?) But they loved openly and without boundaries. They welcomed others into their circles without judgement or prejudice. (Again, does this sound familiar?)

Does this make sense?

Anne said...

Sheri, yes. The hippie years are familiar to me indeed, as I was a teenager during that time. I wasn't a Christian then, but I bought into the whole "love, peace and brotherhood" focus. I told my teenage son once that following Christ was very similar to those old hippie days of mine. And no, I don't think we were off-base then, I just think we lacked something that might brought continuation to the movement - a spiritual focus on God. Then perhaps some of the detrimental elements, like drugs, might not have overpowered it all. By the way, if you'd like to read more about the New Monastics and Shane Claiborne, here's a link: http://snipurl.com/NewMonastics

Sheri, you said, "I sometimes wish we could institute that model for living." What makes you ask it that way? Do you think it's not possible?

Randee said...

Anne,

We recently watched a short video at church about a "community" of believers who all lived together somewhere in California.

There was also a clip of a family who had taken in a single mother and her child on a permanent basis. They worked together in the home, cooked for one another, cared for each other's children, etc.

All this based on this biblical principle. I was deeply touched by it. And, I began to think...how could I reveal Christ's love in this way?

To live in a community? Quite honestly, I just don't see it. I wonder what God "sees"?

Sheri said...

Anne,

I guess my thought was that it doesn't fit in our current society.

The commune way of living is still alive in our current culture. But, it's not widely accepted. Maybe because that way of life isn't so much about caring for one another as Christ, but more about stepping away from the corporateness of society. Running from "the man" so to speak.

I like Randee's illustration about the family who took in the single mom and her child. That would be a great way of living as Christ and fulfills the direction of Acts 2.

Lori Arriaga said...

Anne, what a beautiful thing you and your twin sister shared! And how wonderful it would be if we all lived as Acts 2 says.

Sharing is something I have struggled with all my life as my mind was always in a scarce mode the way I was brought up. It is something that God has been and is continuing to work on my heart about, about His abundance and to share even the little I may have because it starts with just helping that one person in need instead of trying to change the whole world.

Anne said...

Randee, I should stop being surprised at the so-called "coincidences" that seem to crop up like your video at church about community. Like you, I can't quite see myself living in community, at least not under one roof. But I wonder what God will call me to do?

Lori, I understand the struggle about sharing. I haven't had much as an adult, and so I vacillate sometimes. But then I read something like that article and see what a deep life those people have in Christ, and I see how truly rich they are.

Randee said...

Anne, I've decided to simply embrace our multiple "coincidences" as a specific appointment for deeper friendship.

I truly believe God is using our parallels to bring us together.

Norka said...

I think that cummunal living is very different from comunity living. The first requires, even obligates, the sharing of everything. We saw that with the Hippies and Flower Power revolution. But emotionally it was not healthy, and as Anne said it lacked God as a spiritual focus.

Truth is girls, there are some things that should not be shared (our husbands for example, ain't no way I'm sharing him)

But in community, I think the sharing is more bearing each other's burdens and being there for each other. All these are aspects of sharing that would come naturally if we took on the heart and mind of Christ.

Randee said...

My sentiments exactly, Norka.

But...it is thought-provoking topic, no?