Text: Acts 4:32-35
There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
The questions asked in the Exploring the Patterns portion of today’s lesson in BibleWorkbench ask us to explore our attitudes toward money and the concrete relationship between economics and the Kingdom of God—an essential exercise that I dare say most of us would rather skip. Christianity means very little if these issues of economic justice are ignored. There are other layers of meaning in the text, however. And I invite you to also look at the non-material patterns of selling, spending, saving, and sharing that exist in your relationships with others and self.
Who in your life has given up something precious and laid the proceeds at your feet? What security, hopes, and dreams might he or she have given up in order to participate in the relationship or community of which you serve as an apostle? What are your responsibilities as a leader for now taking care of that gift? How do you manage these proceeds? What are your standards for distributing to each according to their needs? Are there needs you feel you cannot fulfill? What do you do when you believe someone is withholding something he or she has promised?
What have you sold or given up, laying the proceeds at the feet of another? Describe the outcome. Has your “apostle” acted responsibly, met your needs adequately? If not, why? Have you ever withheld some portion of yourself from your relationship? If so, why? What happened to the heart and soul of your relationship when that withholding was discovered?
What inner part of you serves as “apostle,” banker of your interior world? Which parts of you sell everything, trusting the proceeds to the wisdom of this “elder”? How are the needs of your peopled inner world each met? Which parts of you withhold some portion of themselves from the greater good? Why? What might they fear will happen if they give it all away? How has their withholding impacted the heart and soul of your inner world?
– Kathie Collins