The description of the early church that is found in the opening chapters of the Book of Acts almost sounds like paradise revisited. Two events had powerfully affected that little community of human beings. First, they had witnessed the resurrection of Jesus. Second, they had received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
The impact of all this was very simple: perfect love had cast out fear. That little group of people had discovered that God's love is bigger than anything else in the entire universe. God's goodness is bigger than human badness. His power to forgive and restore is greater than all human power to disrupt. Therefore, there was a generosity. There was a trust. There was an openness to each other. It was almost like Eden had been before the Fall.
Of course, if love has the power to cast out fear, fear has the power to cast out love. I'm never less loving than when I am most afraid. Fear has a way of focusing our attention solely on ourselves to the exclusion of any other concern. We're never more dangerous than when we are in the grip of panic. But if the love of God says to us there is sufficiency for all situationsif that love is diffusedfear gets cast out, and the possibility of being generous, the possibility of being open and giving, becomes a reality.
Perfection is not a prerequisite.
This had happened in the early church. We are told that they had all things in common. They shared with each other openly and freely because there was nothing to be afraid of. Early on in the Book of Acts, we see a remarkable statement: there wasn't a needy person in the whole community, because those who found themselves in abundance very freely gave to those who had need. They lived together ...
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