It all began long ago in a city far away. This family–the one with the strange habit–was not just a mom and a dad and a few kids. They had relatives living all over town. And, like other families then, most were poor.
Though being poor was common, this family had an uncommon way of dealing with it. Their neighbors took notice: “They’re nice enough folks, I’ll grant you, but a little different, don’t you think?”
For in this family when someone needed food or clothes, someone else shared. That may not sound so strange, but this family took it to extremes. Some even sold their houses and shared that money.
“Why do you share everything?” neighbors often asked.
“Oh, it’s not mine,” they would say. “It’s the family’s.”
Now, that was strange.
Aside from being strange, though, did the plan work? Yes, indeed! Never did a family member’s financial need go unmet.
Well, the family grew and many moved to other towns, even other countries. Children were born and grew up, children who had never met the family members “back home.”
Then the habit faced its greatest test. Famine invaded the home country. It was one thing to share when most of the family lived close together, but would the plan work now?
A family leader traveled from town to town, explaining the plan to those who had never heard and reminding those who had, “Those who have more than enough share with those who have less than enough so that no one has too much or too little.”
And share they did. The family’s love triumphed again.
Generations later this family is scattered throughout the world. Has their strange habit survived?
Just barely. As at the beginning, most are poor. Some, especially those in richer nations, have more than enough. Yet many spend freely on themselves while sharing little with their needy relatives.
A few, though, keep the plan alive. And from time to time a few more commit to living more simply so they can share more generously with their sisters and brothers.
When this happens, God is pleased, because, you see, the family with the strange habit is the family of God.
Yes, it was God’s family 2,000 years ago who “were one in heart and mind,” who “shared everything they had,” so “there were no needy persons among them.” (Acts 4:32 NIV). Years later, as Paul visited churches, gathering the offering for the believers in Jerusalem, he explained: “At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality.” (2 Corinthians 8:14, NIV).
So what about today? Do we dare to so live that we once again deserve the honor of being known as the family with the strange habit?
Are there brothers and sisters with unmet basic financial needs in your church? In a nearby low-income church? What would it take to change that?