Security is a very important thing. In many respects, a number of the high-profile political arguments are over what exactly is security. Differing opinions of what includes security and the perception of who is responsible for such security can really create the potential for discord.
The reason security should be part of our analysis of (in practicality) policies and reactions. Life experiences can dramatically affect one’s personal perception of security, and may dramatically affect what one considers essential for security.
As we read Psalm 133, the essentials of security were pretty minimal. Modern conveniences didn’t exist. Concepts such as hospitals and medical care would exist until centuries later. Food, wild animals, and war were the biggest security things. Security was generally among one’s “brothers”. In other words, family was security. Security was also firmly ground on God’s blessings.
We can find unity in many things. Often unity goes hand-in-hand with security. The disciples were unified in their following of Jesus and their fear. Fear would not seem to be a security characteristic. Yet fear often drives the pursuit of security, and fear often provides a unifying characteristic so that people are united in pursuing the same security with the same motive.
The unified fear of the Disciples after the crucifixion of Jesus was transformed into a unified sharing of resources that we see in Acts. This passage in Acts is often held up as one of the litmus tests of “true” Christians and the “true” church. There is an ideal in it that most of us can appreciate; look out for the benefit of others.
The part that those that hold this up as a litmus test disregards what got them there in the first place. First, we had the unifying story of the 11 original Disciples. Then in the same spirit of unity, the greater circle (of at least 60 or 72) raised 1 of their number (Matthias) to the 12. Then, as the group expanded, there were the struggles that the people of the church has with the Jews and with the Romans. Again, shared fears (and realities) created security in unity.
This creates emotional security that allows one to be free to care for others in a way that is rarely seen in human history. Even in more collectivist cultures, what is described in acts is unusual.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t strive for it, but this unique time and place should not be a litmus test for the “perfection” of one’s faith and one’s church. In many respects, those that use it as a litmus test are using worldly stuff (i.e., mammon) to define “real” Christians.
The real litmus test can be found in 1 John. A community that submits to be held accountable to the Word of God, and to each other. True unity is knowing that your fellow Christians are looking out for your interests, in particular, the growth up, wide, and down of your faith in and relationship with Jesus Christ.
To be fair, this kind of community is often harder to find than a community that shares stuff. Be so united, loving, and trusting with one’s self (versus one’s stuff) is probably the highest bar to hurdle.
- Can you imagine a community of commons, such as the one in Acts? What would you expect of such a community towards you (and your family) and towards others? How about those outside the community? What would be the requirements of membership in such a community?
- Are you in a community where your spiritual struggles and growth are shared, encouraged, strengthened, sharpened, and questioned (for improvement)?
- If not, what would it take for you to be in one? How would you get started with one? Should you?
- If so, how did the group form? How would you keep it together and focused? What are lessons from it that you can share so that other groups like yours could be formed?
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.Second Sunday of Easter Collect, Book of Common Prayer 2019