Repentance Changes Our Lives Together

Repentance Changes Our Lives Together

In the January edition of the Rupert’s Land New, Gwen McAllister, Anglican priest and CCS alum, reflects on the radical Christian practice of sharing things in common, and the repentance, conversion, and vulnerability it would take for us to embrace that vision. Read the full article here.

I’ve heard the early part of Acts chapter 2, in which Peter tells the people to repent and be baptized, read many times over the years. The latter part of that chapter, which I’ve heard read less often, tells of the daily lives of the Christians, their devotion and deep friendship, how they had all things in common and provided for each other according to their needs. I’ve never heard these two parts of the chapter read together as a whole. Our lectionary separates them by only one Sunday, but in our understanding they seem to be separated by miles.

What it meant to live in Christ and in Christ’s Communion, and what it still means, is plain in the passage: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” That part is familiar enough: it’s part of our baptismal covenant, and it’s what many of us will think of when we think about living in Christ. But what it’s not separated from, what it flows from or flows into, and was a given for those early Christians, is this: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.” This understanding is somewhat reflected in our baptismal vows as well, but less baldly stated.

This passage is so radical, so like the Creator, and so like the living land. The spiritual fruit of the practices described in Acts 2 are the transformed habits of relationship and daily life. In my experience, these new ways of being have been considered weird and fringe by many Christians, or merely dismissed as not reasonable, or as politically loaded. Yet our scriptures in Acts declare them to be not only faithful, but the natural outcome of Christian practice.

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