As we move through this mini series on Oikos (click here to read from the start) hopefully what you are seeing is not a bunch of crazy new ideas, but rather a fresh approach to community, rooted in and based on the extended family principles we read about in the New Testament. Today is no different.
How often have you read in Acts 2 that
“all the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need…”
(v44-45) and been challenged or inspired?
Yet it often seems so unachievable.
The truth is that every Oikos/community needs be taking steps in the principle that we see here – and everyone can start straight away.
Sharing resources is often the most challenging yet most simple aspect of Oikos.
What the disciples’ example teaches us in this passage is that spiritual community cannot be separated from the practical aspects of life. As your Oikos grows together spiritually and emotionally, the practical/physical overlap should increase too. If not, you will always place a ceiling on the growth of relationships in the Oikos.
When we reflected on prayer in an Oikos, we said that it was important for extended family members to be able bring their needs – however large or small. As well as praying together, part of our response is to consider whether those needs can be met by the family! (Depending on our natural strengths, this will be stretching in different ways – for those who are bringing their needs in vulnerability and for those who feel challenged to share what they have). Recently, someone in our Oikos shared that they felt it was right to reduce the amount of paid work they were doing, in order to have more time to give as a volunteer. After discussing this, a couple of us responded by offering to contribute financially in order to make this possible. This was a simple way to meet a need within the family.
However, this is not just about meeting needs. In growing family relationships, we often share not because we have to but because we want to.
Sharing resources is about choosing to not be independent and self-sufficient, and gives us the opportunity to practice generosity.
So, does this mean we need to sell our houses and give all our money away to others? Probably not! Rather, the question is where can we start to share resources with others in our Oikos? In our experience, this has started by couples/families sharing meals together, sharing a computer, or a bike, or a car, or a garden…through to sharing bank accounts and houses.
One valuable resource we all have is our time. There is often an opportunity to share this with others. This may be in the form of helping someone move house, paint a room, babysit their children, or simply take them out for coffee. This can often feel just as costly as sharing our money or belongings. However this can also be as much (if not more) of a blessing than sharing material things.
Where we start is not important, the emphasis is on learning to take the next step towards community and away from independence.
From a mission point of view (the OUT dynamic of an Oikos), a community that is learning to share resources is incredibly attractive to those we are reaching – if you read on in Acts 2 you will find this to be the experience of the disciples. This is a form of radical living that often demonstrates the love of God in a way that simply explaining it cannot. Remember a few weeks ago we talked about a lifestyle of example? People will look to how we live more than what we say.
Let’s be clear,
choosing to increase what is shared amongst an Oikos will often involve confronting personal and cultural strongholds that feel awkward and difficult to break.
It will be inconvenient at times. We may share things with people that become damaged or broken. Life may sometimes be uncomfortable.
Whatever the resources in question, we will confront the same strongholds of wanting to keep what we have for ourselves and not wanting to ask others to share what they have. This is why we need to encourage one another to start small but be intentional.
However, as we read the account of the early church in Acts 2, let’s remember the fruit and blessing that was reaped from building a “sharing” culture and how integral it was to their lifestyle of discipleship and mission.
So within your Oikos/community;
Where are you currently sharing your resources (money, belongings, time)?
Is it time for you/those you lead to take the next step?
Where is there a need that together you could help to meet?