We read in the Book of Acts:
Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.
(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Acts 4:32 – May 27, 2012)
According to Luke, “there was not a needy person among them” because the apostles “distributed to each as any had need.” (Acts 4:34-35) Sounds a bit Bolshevik, doesn’t it? At least it certainly sounds like Karl Marx who, in 1875, wrote, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” Of course, Marx believed that this sort of social organization could only exist in a society where technology and social organization had substantially eliminated the need for physical labor in the production of things, which cannot in any way, shape, or form describe the situation in First Century Judea. Nonetheless, I’ve never understood how, with Holy Scripture describing and even extolling this social organization of the first disciples, any Christian could not strive toward a society of this sort. ~ Throughout the last two millennia there have been religious orders and utopian experiments which have sought to recreate the first Christian community as separate from, rather than in the midst of, the secular world. It seems to me that we are called to minister within the world order and try to reform it. As Christians we should strive to build a world where there is not a needy person and where all receive as any has need. Jesus put it this way, “Love your neighbor as your self.” (Mark 12:31) We have a word for that sort of love. We call it justice.