Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Is Individualism the answer?

It is normal for our society- but does that make it right?

How does the way I live look anything like the passage in Acts 2?

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

I have wondered what that scenerio would look like in an American 21 century context? Is it fine if I justify my lifestyle? Can I live in my 3 bedroom house, 2 cars, 4 tvs, and a lawn mower and not share any of it? Almost every other American Christian I know lives the same way, but does this make it right or what should be the norm?

I walked into a house last week. there were 10 or more people under the age of 25 in the house. The house was sparce, there were about 5 kids under the age of 4 running around. The heat if on was turned way down. The living conditions were not great at all. As I talked with them and thought about their lives over the last week, I thought how can I encourage and help them to do better? How do I help them get jobs and escape this poverish way of living?

At least one of the young people in the above house had served time in jail. As I pondered last week about this, is it realistic or even plausable for all the people in this house to get jobs? One of the young ladies had 3 children and she was barely out of her teenage years.

As I realized that most of my advice and thoughts were on the individuals. If we can help one person in that family to escape the situation then maybe we have been successful.

But what if we begin to look at a situation like this not from a white american lense but from a Acts 2 lense.

Lets think creatively for a moment- what if the solution for this family and others is not to have them all go get jobs put children in day care and make as much money as possible but rather teach them how to be the Acts 2 church within their family unit. This family has 13 kids under the age of 25 and then they have 7-10 kids.

How do we help them be community (amoung their family) supportive, nurturing, up holding the teachings of scripture, and a beacon of light in their greater community?

As I thought through those things, I realized my life is not an example of anything sustainable. How can 13 people without much income eventually each buy a house for themselves and have two cars and live like the average Christian?

The way I live is not a great model for others trying to follow Jesus. My family unit lives independently from others, and even smaller I live independetly from them. 4 tvs? Why because I have a right to watch tv when I want and what I want. The debate in Christiandom about what to watch and not watch-is that even the right discussion? The question Jill and I have had recently is why do we watch tv at all? How does this bring our family closer together and to God? It doesn't if we are honest but it is going to so hard to quit it.

Two cars? Why because I have so much to do that is important? To some degree yes, but I don't drive it that much that it couldn't be shared by others. As I filled my tank last night for $3.24 a gallon the thought of sharing became more realistic. A 3 bedroom house? Of course we need our space.

Last week a group of us were talking about this and the conversation moved into how much room do we need just for our stuff? How many rooms aren't being used to house people but rather all the things that bring us happiness and pleasure? These concepts aren't too much fun to think about, because I am pretty content living my own life and don't want to complicate it with adding other people.

Oh yea lawn mower? I use it possibly once a week- why in the world do we all need one?

As I thought through this a mode began to emerge rather than using individualism as a goal why not not sharing as the end, I thought maybe there is hope for this family. If all of them can't get jobs why can't we help them plant a garden? Why can't we get them a lawn mower to share with their neighbors? Why can't we figure out creative ways of sharing resources?

These concepts of Acts 2 don't cross my mind too often because they are irrelevant to our culture. But does that make me right? I don't think so.

A group of people in northwest Indiana want to do this intentionally and live together. I was told a story about one of the couples, they have some pretty big debt due to college loans. They didn't want to burden the rest of the group with this debt. The rest of the group is thinking about it but it seems that they are going to be a part of this community now.

This is not the American way,this is not normal to pick up someone else's debt and take it as your own. But I am beginning to think this is what the community in Acts was all about. Until I understand this I am going to have a hard time giving others advice.

Sometimes I don't really want to think about what it means to be the church and live like Jesus, because it doesn't look a whole lot like the life I think I enjoy.


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