Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. (Acts 2:44-45)
I have spent the past couple of days exploring the countryside of Lancaster Pennsylvania. As I went through the farmlands, this passage of scripture came to mind. In our fast paced lifestyle, we so often forget as Christians we are meant to be a community of believers. When you look around the Lancaster area, you see this first hand. The structured day to day life the Amish lead should be an example to all Christians that our one common belief (Jesus as our Savior) should be used to unite people around us.
There is a simplicity of life in this part of the country that should not be a stranger to any of us, yet is. When coming on this trip, I was not going to bring my cell phone at all, then decided to simply bring it and have it in my bag on do not disturb, just in case of emergencies. The past 24 hours of not checking my phone every 30 seconds, of not having to check in on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram constantly and of simply enjoying what is around me has been refreshing.
It has also helped me understand the above referenced scripture even more. While it is speaking of material possessions, I think you can look as this as also giving your time and energy to those around you in need as well. So often, we simply want to write a check and then ignore the problem. While financial resources are needed for any ministry (as a Director of my local Rescue Mission I understand this need on a daily basis), there also needs to be a recognition of needs beyond the material. Dividing our time and efforts with simply worldly things erodes our spiritual gifts.
We need to have a better understanding of the spiritual needs of people in our communities. When was the last time you visited a shelter, nursing home or addiction center and spoke with someone about their relationship with God? Or better yet, have you ever?
Community does not just means bake sales and car washes. It is more than just cool concerts and puppet shows. It is sometimes stepping up and “getting dirty” for the Gospel. It means going out of your comfort zone to tell people about the love Christ has for them. It means maybe not trying to solve your areas with problems with just your checkbook.
These past couple days have shown me what true community with God is. As we passed by the horse drawn buggies and bicycles, I have to wonder if we are the ones who have it wrong. With our laptops, cell phones and tablets, our big screen TVs and $15 movie tickets, maybe we have been blinded from our true mission here on earth: to help people come to God. The countryside here is gorgeous, with just miles and miles of rolling farmland. Almost all the crops here go back into the community, so those who might not have much can have something. There is a work ethic I see here stronger than most I have seen, because the children are taught to work from an early age. There are not coddled with Xboxes and Playstations, but instead are taught the value of work and family.
I wonder if the technology we so rely on has made us disconnected from God. Has made us lost the sense of community we should have. I have 400+ “friends” on Facebook and 1400+ followers on Twitter, yet remain silent and partially blind to the needs and concerns of my small hometown. Why? Because the sense of community that once was the standard in towns like mine across the country has been replaced with seeing how many “likes” the town’s page can get.
This thought will remain with me for a long time. I am not foolish enough to believe I will abandon technology in my life (although the farms and families seem to do just fine here without it). But I will start examining just how much of my time and effort should be used in different ways to make my community better. I would encourage all of you to do to the same.