Jesus followers in the early church live together from “house to house” and begin “sharing everything” that they have with one another. They don’t “buy and sell” from each other nor “borrow” resources from each other, but they make everything available to be used up as a “gift” in service to one another. No one owns anything for himself or herself, everyone shares what they have and therefore owns everything. Because of this, there is no needy person among them. They become family to each others families. To borrow Mike Peters words, they are not ‘christian neighbours.’
The ecclesia is where the spirit of God is moving to gather people who are seeking the truth, disciple them and send them out to the field.. Whenever people wants to follow Jesus, He gathers them to Himself and disciple them. He basically ‘kills’ them, “Deny yourself, take up your cross, let’s go to the cross and crucify you.The life that you know has come to an end. From now on follow Me.” In many churches, we love to gather them on our meetings but we miss to do the most basic meaning of discipleship: kill them. We let each one of them live as they pleases as if they still can do what they like to do. But Jesus requires the person to himself as ‘dead to sin’ thus needed to be ‘buried’ underground in baptism. And then He sends them out to the field to make people disciples of Him. Take note that when Jesus said, “I will send workers into the field” He is not kind when He said so. He use the same word “ekballein” in Greek which used in the process of driving out demons. Lk.10:2
Noticeable kinds of people are present in Jesus ecclesia. One is that they seem to have a heart for the orphans and widows. This is the kind of religion that God accepts as pure and faultless says James 1:27. For God Himself has adopted us as His own sons and daughters and into His family, Eph.1:5 says that “God decided in advance to adopt us…” If so, should we not adopt those who are fatherless in our society? If not us, then who? If not now, then when? Orphanages are a human convenience that replaces adoption, it is not simply God’s idea.
Another kind of people that’s present in the early church are elders who functions like dad and mom, the “parents in the Lord” fathering and mothering, serving their next generation. One ‘unrealised’ important words that Jesus spoke to His disciples is this, “I shall not leave you as orphans” John 14:18. He promises the kind of church He wants: family. A family-based church that has hundreds of fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters (Matthew 19:29). Today’s christianity does not reflect much of how Jesus defines His ecclesia. So many ‘spiritual’ orphans transferring from church to church without changing their lives.
And they handle things differently. Church in the early times were not just glued by their family-style relationships or else we can be like any social club that we attend simply because we know some people in the group. They serve one another. Many churches have people yet fail to serve each other. God-given gifts and talents that we received are meant to be used for the advancement of the work of the kingdom. Means, they “lay it down” at the apostles feet. Acts 4:35, “There were no needy ones among them, because those who owned lands or houses would sell their property, bring the proceeds from the sales, and lay them at the apostles’ feet for distribution to anyone as he had need.” All work with their hands, not busybodies, so that every part of the body can supply it’s needs and the needs of others. 1 Thes. 4:11; 1 Cor.12. Even Paul has to work making tents to be able to help others. If God supplies our needs to be able to work full-time in His field it is fine. If not, it is fine also, we work with our own hands. No problem.
So, disciples of Jesus helped their own first, serving one another, “He who does this to the least of My brethren you did it unto Me” Mat. 25:40. Jesus said, “My” brethren. Disciples, Christians, followers of Jesus first, unbelievers second. Poor among us first, “there was not a needy person among them” Acts 4:32. Christians take care first those that are in the ‘household of faith’ or else the outside screaming need of injustice and poverty will suck out the entire budget very quickly and we will deprive our own family and miss the purposes of God’s family. We are God-driven; not need-driven.
Remember the kind of church that Jesus said, “a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden”? (Mat.5:14). It is exactly what David also said, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is when brethren DWELL TOGETHER in unity.” The New Testament recognition of ekklesia in a given city is not by religious edifices or numbers. There is one ekklesia in Thessalonica, one in Ephesus and they live like the ‘church in Jerusalem’. It is the first church and it is our model today (Acts 2:42-46) to follow. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 for unity is not about doctrinal unity. Leaders of organizational churches are busy trying to create another doctrine that would somehow unites us, while their own churches are in chaos. Some build churches this way and others that way, showing the obvious that we don’t really know how to build. Simply said, it is not our job to build churches. We steal His job of building ekklesia. Imagine, 55,000 different brands (denominations) of Christianity is competing and hindering Church as God wants it. Looks like Jesus cannot marry a beautiful Bride but a harem.
In the words of Aristides, when sent by the Emperor Hadrian to spy those strange creatures known as ‘Christians’, having seen them in action, he returned with a mixed report. But his immortal words to the Emperor have echoed down through history: “Behold! How they love one another.” This is one of the profound comments made regarding the early church life (Church Swindol). Like any healthy family are loving one another because they hate one another.
Ron Mc Kenzie, in his book “Being Church Where We Live”, believes that the early church way of living ‘from house to house’ is not a principle to follow but only a ‘default system’ that when someone wants to be part of the Kingdom people, “a city that is set on a hill” then he knows what to do: transfer next door to anther family of Jesus. But the reason behind is because they want to ‘obey everything that Jesus commanded’ including the 58 one-anothering. They change their priorities and literally decide to be of ‘one mind, one heart and one accord ‘ and be one family and obeying the King – their Head, together as His one body.
Living “from house to house” is more than a location, it is a way of life.The word ‘fellowship’ in Greek is ‘koinonia’ that is connected to the word ‘dwell together’ meaning ‘they are of one mind and one heart, one common life, one common joy and pain.’ Oh, they still need to work a lot of things among themselves, lots of relationships to build needs a lot of patience. I look in a dictionary whats the deepest meaning of the word and this is what it says, “If one buys a ship everybody owns it!”
Real “koinonia” changes our priorities. Changes where we live, how we live, why we live and who to live for.