All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. – Acts 4:32
There have always been those in church leadership that have trumpeted a call back to the “early church model.” These pundits desire a simple, disorganized, less-bureaucratized, pure version of church that they see painted within the pages of Luke’s early church history. I agree that it looks attractive, and I would also affirm that (as with the early church) it is a great place to start.
At the same time, do we also want the hostile environment, difficulty, and dependence that those participants in the early church experienced? While it may be mirrored in other cultures around the world today, little of it is seen in the West. How much of what we see in Scripture is actually repeatable or reproducible in our culture? Would we really desire the “furnace” in which the early church was forged? Let’s be certain we know what we are actually seeking.
Luke tells us that “all the believers were one in heart and mind.” I like that. While it may not always be maintained, it is a worthy ideal that implies unity of purpose and not uniformity in practice. Much of the early church model may be lost in our present, modernized culture, but such alignment is necessary no matter where or when you live. In fact, when we consider why a third of the world remains unreached, perhaps the lack of an obedient, unified approach is the culprit.
If the devil were wise enough and would stand by in silence and let the gospel be preached, he would suffer less harm. For when there is no battle for the gospel it rusts, and it finds no cause and no occasion to show its vigor and power. Therefore, nothing better can befall the gospel than that the world should fight it with force and cunning. – Martin Luther