Living in Unity
Texts: Acts 4:32-35 & Psalm 133
The very early Christians lived a different life than most of us live today. In the words of Luke in our focus text, Acts 4:32-35, the earliest Christian community “were one in heart and mind,” “they shared everything,” “there were no needy persons.” In a single word, the early Christian communities can perhaps best be described as living in unity. In Psalm 133, David describes the fruits of such unity, perhaps foreshadowing the early Christian communities: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
Do the words of Luke and David describe the Christian community in which you live? For my Christian community, a church in Austin, Texas, the answer is “partly.” Sometimes we are one in heart and mind, but sometimes it also seems like there are divisions among us. We certainly don’t share everything, but we do share some things. We live in an area that is relatively well-to-do financially, so very few of us are desperately needy, but there is a still a very wide range in financial situations. Nobody gives everything they have so that it can be shared among the church members. And it’s certainly true that sometimes it feels “good and pleasant” to live together. That’s exactly what happened when we merged our two worship services, with distinct styles, into a single service. The surprising result of the merger was a feeling of unity, which was quite good and quite pleasant. But overall, we’re still only partly like the early Christians. I suspect that your Christian community is also only “partly” like the early Christians.
Now let’s look at these same questions in the context of the HIV epidemic. Does the unity of your Christian community include people living with HIV? Would someone living with HIV feel like he or she is a welcome part of your community? Or would the fear and stigma associated with HIV and AIDS get in the way? Would someone living with HIV feel of “one heart and mind” with your community? Even if your community doesn’t completely share everything, would it be willing to share what it has with people living with HIV, or would people living with HIV feel like they are treated differently?
I hope the answer is that you can overcome the barriers of fear and stigma, because that is critical to ending AIDS. When that happens, David’s words “good and pleasant” will not be enough to describe our Christian communities living in unity.
To Think About: Does my Christian community live in unity? Does that unity include people living with HIV?