The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead utterly transformed his followers and created a new human community whose lifestyle we can hardly imagine, and we largely ignore. The Church adapted to changing circumstances and moved away from its earliest pattern. To this day, however, there are Anabaptist and monastic communities who vow to hold all things in common.
Here is the description found in the Book of Acts: “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” (Acts 4:32-35).
Although this pattern did not long endure, the spirit that animated it did. The Church would continue to see itself as a living body in which every member is vitally important. In the beloved words of St. Paul, “The body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. … As it is, there are many members, yet one body. … If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it” (1 Cor. 12:14-20, 26).
The risen Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the Church, and we are members of his body, and we need each other. How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard,” (Ps. 133:1-2). In every age, the Church must strive to uphold the dignity and worth of all her members, who are united as one body in Christ. “We have fellowship with one another,” but not only because we strive to be “of one heart and soul” (1 John 1:7; Acts 4:32). Our unity in Christ is built up and strengthened by firm realities of faith, a series of what might be called the sacraments and sacramentals of the Church. We know Christ as we acknowledge our sin, seek forgiveness, and pledge to amend our lives (1 John 1:8-9). We see Christ with eyes newly opened; we behold him in all his redeeming work. “We walk in the light as he is light” (1 John 1:6). In water, oil, bread, and wine, we see and touch and hold the “word of life” (1 John 1:1). Touching Christ by faith, we have access even to his breath and body. “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:21-22). “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put out your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side’” (John 20:27).
We know Christ by faith, and faith is a new way of seeing, touching, and walking. We adhere to Christ so that his life becomes our very own.
Look It Up: The Collect
Think About It: Reborn into Christ, we show forth Christ.