Having lived most of my life in Florida I have seen what powerful storms can do. It seems like every other year a major hurricane or tropical storm will wreak havoc on a city and entire communities and neighborhoods will be destroyed overnight. Those who live in those areas will be displaced with almost all of their belongings gone and nothing to hold on to but each other.
Every time this happens one major thing amazes me: community. Community is not just an area where people live. It is a lifestyle that people embrace. When homes are destroyed, belongings are lost, and lives are cast into shambles the community will come together and take care of each other. Often people from far away will come to volunteer and will help clean up the mess and rebuild from what is left behind. This is an amazing thing to witness and even more amazing to be a part of.
The truth is that we all have felt in one way or another either the fulfillment of being the community that comes together to rescue others from their trials or have even been on the receiving end of this love and kindness. It may be that the best part (if it can be called such) of any great storm is that it brings people together and reminds them of the great need for community. We seem to forget how wonderful and necessary it is until the storm has come and gone.
I realize that your life may not be going through a literal hurricane. But it may feel that way. You might be in the deepest despair of your life or simply lost in the tremendous force the storm in your life has brought with it. It can be a very sobering thing to realize that something in your life is lost, destroyed, or left in shambles and you have no way on your own to put the pieces back together.
I want us to take a few moments today to read Acts Ch.2. In this chapter we see the community of the New Testament Church coming together to meet the needs of each other. Awesome and amazing things happened in the community and people began to see that when they worked together it opened the door for God to do incredible things both in and through their lives. I want to point out something from the end of the chapter:
Acts 2 (NLT)
 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.  They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.  They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity —  all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
I want to us to realize a few things here from this passage. First, the believers were meeting together in homes and shared food and belongings with each other. It seems as if people were going out of their way to find others to minister to. I am a huge fan of meetings as a congregation in the church building but I personally believe that our homes can be much more open, comfortable, and beneficial for ministry. This is especially true if you are ministering to those who are not used to being in a church atmosphere.
The second thing that I think is important is they were willing to sell or give their possessions to those who were in need. This does not mean that everyone sold all they had and put it in one local pot for each person to take as they needed. It doesn’t mean that the believers forgot about taking care of their own families or thinking about the future with regards to retirement and the things their families would need. But it means that they were willing to place the needs of others above the wants in their lives. Remember our big truth for this week:
God cares more about holiness than happiness
This means that we need to realize or remember that all of our things are just ours to steward. God has given us the responsibility to use everything in our possession to build his kingdom. Our homes, our bank accounts, our food, our cars, our clothes, even our (gasp) homes to minister to those in need. The needs of the community always trump the wants in my life. God forgive me for not always living that way.
The final thing I want us to take away from that passage is the results of how they lived. When the believers came together and lived generously more and more people believed in Christ and were saved. The community approved of their work (even the non-believers) and they were able to do far more for the kingdom than they ever could if they were content to only meet in the church buildings and sing songs. If we want to have this kind of an impact on our communities we have to get outside our buildings and comfort zones and live life with those in need.
So what is our application of this passage in our lives?
- If you are going through the storm in your life right now, reach out to your local church body and let them be a resource of help and assistance to you in your time of need. Don’t be so proud or ashamed to be open and honest with them about you need for help. After all, Jesus taught that we should love our neighbors like we love ourselves and any church community that seeks to follow Christ will be there to come to your aid.
- If you are a believer who is not going through a storm in your life remember the times in the past when you were and others came to help you. It may have been a meal, or money they gave, or time spent with you caring and praying. Everyone has some type of resource to provide to care for those in need.
Remember that the storms in our lives come and go; that we can be assured of. But those storms can be opportunities for us to rally together as the community of Christ and reach those in need. This life is temporary and eternity is real. We must live as if we honestly believe that .