Countercultural Economics

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

We’re often warned, when approaching the book of Acts, that it’s descriptive not prescriptive, that it’s an account of how some Christians lived, not a command for how all Christians should live, that we need to respect the genre. I agree – that is a sound rule of interpretation. But are you disturbed, as I am, when Christians use that truth to dodge the questions the account raises? Oh, it’s not a command, phew!

This may not be prescriptive for everybody, but is it okay for it to describe nobody? This may not be prescriptive for everybody, but does that make Christ irrelevant to how we do business? How we run the economy? How we consume? How we respond to world poverty? How we invest?

Communal living is not for me, but in my own life I am exploring what it means to participate in the gift economy. Yesterday, I decided to give away my fish tank as soon as my last fish dies. So, rather than try to sell it off on eBay or ditch it or something I put up a message on Facebook. Within hours another member of our local Christian community had very keenly put his hand up. Some months ago we did the same thing with a fridge. We benefit ourselves from this informal gift economy through hand me down kids clothes, toys and videos. It saves on landfill, saves us money and, more importantly, teaches me heaps on what it means to live as family, to live in community. This giving often spills over to the nonChristians who surround us. Giving has a multiplication effect.

Giving is part of our worship on Sunday, but how we worship one day should not be disconnected from how we live everyday. As I understand it, Sunday should be a climax, not a contradiction.

3 thoughts on “Countercultural Economics

  1. It seems to me that a passage can refrain from being prescriptive and yet still be rather suggestive. Especially when considered in light of other passages.


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