common: 2 a : belonging to or shared by two or more individuals or things or by all members of a group
The word common has its roots in the latin word, communis. It is the source of several words that we use often – community, communicate, common, and so on. It is, in its simplest sense, “with” or “together.”
A commune, then, is when people come together as one (“com-” = together, “une” = one). When we live in community, we are together in one area. If we communicate, we share ideas together. If we have common interests, we share interest in the same things. To have things in common would mean, then, that we share life.
Despite the enormous advances in technology and the wonders of modern science, there are simply no short-cuts or substitutions for just being together. We can share some time and conversation through any number of means – even face to face with FaceTime or Skype or Google Hangouts – but it’s still no substitute for being together.
Our traditions in church world put us, at least most of the time, sitting in rows – all looking the same direction – as some person or persons speak, sing, pray, etc. to us. And somehow we wonder why people approach worship services more like a concert than a time to engage with one another in giving attention and praise to our Father.
If we’re honest with one another, we recognize that there is not much sharing of life when we’re sitting in rows. But when we gather around a table, especially for a meal, and spend time enjoying God’s blessings together, it changes us. It reminds us on a level much deeper than we recognize that we are not alone.
Last weekend we celebrated my parents’ 50th anniversary in marriage and in ministry. It was a great day. As we wrapped up the clean-up, all six of my kids were there and we found ourselves just sitting around talking with my parents. We had things to do and started to move toward the car when our kids asked if we could all go have dinner together.
Nothing on my to-do list mattered more to me in that moment than spending a little time with my kids who wanted to be together.
When I reflect on this key verse from Acts 2 that describe those first empowered days of the Jerusalem church,
And all who believed were together and had all things in common.Acts 2.44
I think I know why the Spirit caused those words to be recorded in the Scriptures. Because I know what it does in our hearts when our kids want to be together with us, I think I have a glimpse of what it means to God when his children gather in his presence and enjoy him and each other.
Those believers in Jerusalem so long ago “had all things in common.” That is, they shared life. They shared the sorrows of losing loved ones. They shared the joys of precious children being born. They shared the hurt of the tragedies and they shared the celebrations of victories. They were more concerned about others having enough than about losing what they had.
They were together. They were sharing life and all that was a part of it.
So what if…
What if we looked after one another in the church like family? What if we, like a big, noisy family, had frequent joy-filled gatherings with the doors propped open? What if the lonely and abandoned and hopeless were drawn to those open doors by the joy that resonated within?
Could it happen today as then, “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2.47)?