Some months before my friends’ home was sold, God told me they would be living with us. I was washing dishes or doing some other ordinary task and there came the declarative statement from the highest authority in my life. I thought it strange, for sure. My friends had talked about moving, but nothing was presently in the works. But when our friends needed a place to live when their house was sold before they purchased their new one, we offered them to come to our house. To me it was a no brainer. For years I have longed to operate in community like the church in the book of Acts: “All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had” (4:32). This was love in action, a great witness to the watching world on how Christians are to operate through the grace of God. I admit, I was a little nervous about opening my home, but I was more excited to finally have a major tangible chance to experience a degree of community that the early church had. God had declared our arrangement; my friends needed our arrangement; so it was so. While I understand that our arrangement—two families of five living together—is uncommon, I had been having a hard time understanding the reactions of both our friends and family, all of whom are Christians.
They have said, “How long are they (you) going to be there?” “You can’t live there indefinitely.” “How’s it going? I know it’s hard.” “You’re doing what?” “You’re staying where?” and the like. When our response has been that our arrangement is going exceptionally well and that our friends will be with us as long as they need to be, our inquisitionists have been baffled, even continuing to question to convince us that we shouldn’t be doing this. One friend said, “I’m glad God told you something like that and not me. I couldn’t do it.” She summed up the sentiments behind everyone’s thoughts. They could not share their space, especially indefinitely, with others, especially with an entire family. Their thinking, unfortunately, is common. I believe it stems from our everyday notions of having men caves, diva rooms, kids’ playrooms and other dedicated spaces so we can spend time in our homes away from our family members.
Yes, we all need times of refreshing. I, too, have a time and space daily for me. It is essential for my peace. But what are we to do when our dedicated space interferes with the space God wants us to give away? I had to suck in a few breaths when I knew my quiet time space in my living room that I have had for 15 years would be no more. Now that our friends moved in, my space is different than it was three months ago before their coming, and, to my surprise, it is actually better. I probably would never have thought of this new space had our friends not moved in with us. There have been other adjustments in daily living for us all, but we all have no doubt benefited from our communal space. Whether cooking, cleaning, running errands, babysitting, child training/discipleship or camaraderie, we have shared these burdens and blasts. If we had the mindset of “me and mine” instead of “us and ours” or, better yet, “God’s and God’s alone” we would not have experienced such unexpected blessings.
“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him” (Psalm 24:1—NLT).
We have to get that. Our houses, cars, clothes, our very lives do not belong to us; they belong to God. And when God tells us what to do with our lives and our stuff, we are supposed to do what He tells us to do. We have to have more than an intellectual assent but make a physical bend to declare we really believe what we say we believe. We have to do what we understand is right to demonstrate the gospel of Jesus Christ. “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). The gospel, particularly our love for Jesus, is active, when we keep His commandments:
“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (1 Corinthians 10:24).
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
I want Jesus to see that I love Him and I want others to see that too. Our family is seeking to live the above scriptures in obedience to Christ, which is a radical act of love. We have not reached the level of sharing of the church in Acts where they had “all things common,” but our families are of one heart and mind that God is our provider and us living together is one way that the Lord has decided to provide for us (Acts 4:32). We know our situation is unusual but we choose to obey God rather than men and embrace this radical act of love.
Take a Risk Challenge: I believe the greatest love you can show others is how you love God. When He tells us to do something hard, we have to seek to go beyond only seeing the bad so we can imagine what good might come from our obedience to God’s commands. So this week, love somebody according to 1 Corinthians 10:21, Galatians 6:2, or Philippians 2:3 (listed above). Going beyond yourselves in such a way will model for others how you love Jesus and show them that such a radical act of love is possible.
Question: What have you done to demonstrate your love for God?