Although there is an abundant defense of private property and capitalism among professing Christians, we must make ourselves fully aware of just how much these so called “christians” have been conditioned throughout the centuries to regard private property and the accumulation of wealth as part of the divine order of God. NOTHING could be further from the truth! In this article I will attempt to dismantle this horrible addiction to possessions that is first and foremost utterly forbid by none other than Jesus Christ himself.
Let’s take a look at Jesus’ own life and example during his earthly ministry. After all, He is the one we should be getting our cues from when it comes to dare calling ourselves a “Christian.”
Jesus was homeless, let’s just get that straight from the very start.
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58)
In fact, Jesus was even born homeless!
…and she (Mary) gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:7)
Hard to imagine, you might be thinking to yourself. Why on earth would God allow His most dearly beloved son to live such a life of poverty? We would suggest that it was simply a matter of God trying to show His deep love and concern for the poor, the downtrodden, the outcasts, the ones who suffer daily as a direct result of those who seek to enhance their personal wealth at the very expense of these same people.
Next, let’s look at a particular verse that is most often ignored by 99.99% of professing Christians as it relates to ownership of private property:
“So then, none of you can be My disciple (i.e. a Christian) who does not give up all his own possessions. (Luke 14:33)
WHAT?! Did he actually say that? Yep, he most certainly did. Look it up for yourself. Not only did he say this, he said it to a multitude of people who were interested in following him. We cannot escape this far reaching command, no matter how much we may try to find ways to avoid it or water it down to suit our tastes. If you are not interested in Christ or his teachings, then by all means, ignore it. On the other hand, if you dare call yourself a Christian, you are definitely responsible for taking this command as it was intended by Christ himself…ignore it at your own peril. Just consider the fact that if YOU are unwilling to follow Jesus’ teachings yourself, you have absolutely no right whatsoever to condemn “unbelievers” for doing the same. They at least have an excuse, whereas you don’t.
Now, let us take a brief look at the early church and its teachings on the subject of possessions and private property. Be prepared for some shocking truth!
In the book of Acts, we find the first church establishing itself in Jerusalem. It would seem unmistakable that these first followers of Christ took his teachings about possessions very seriously. All we have to do is list a number of references from the book of Acts to get a clear picture of how they chose to live in accordance with the teachings of Jesus. Here they are:
And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. (Acts 2:44-45)
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. (Acts 4:32)
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them (Acts: 2:41)
However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. (Acts 4:4)
And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women (Acts 5:14)
Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:7)
Now, if the first church began selling all their possessions and sharing all things in common, and the numbers of disciples/believers were greatly increasing, imagine all the relative “wealth” they would have held in common. People with lands, houses, and a number of other possessions were joining this growing body and relinquishing private ownership. The concern voiced by so many opponents of this example and life of the early church is based entirely on the fear of being destitute, living in abject poverty. Yet we see nothing of the sort happening here!
…For there was not a needy person among them… (Acts 4:34)
As a matter of fact, Jesus tells us to expect quite the opposite, when we are willing to let go of all we cling so tightly to in this life in our vain attempts at reaching for supposed material security:
Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.… (Mark 10:29-30)
It would seem pretty clear that although Jesus commands us to divest ourselves of our own personal property/possessions, he has absolutely NO issue with his followers sharing all of these things together, communally. After all, sharing is the exact opposite of greed.
I would say, in conclusion, that the number one cause for those supposed Christians who would denounce any attempts at living communally, as a family of brothers and sisters in Christ is none other than GREED. While so many seek to dismiss the early Christians practices of sharing all things in common, let it not be said that it can be based on the teachings of Jesus or his first committed followers.
But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth (1 John 3:17-18)