I was recently blessed with a trip to Italy with my wife, sister and brother (in-law). We were part of a larger tour that was being arranged through a bible study class we are associated with – Arizona Bible Class. It was a very gracious and courteous crowd many of whom are seasoned veterans of the tour bus circuit. Our little family group was among some of the ‘younger’ travelers and it was a reminder of several lessons that I had learned over the last few years – a couple of which I soon remembered I was never too old to learn all over again.
It says a lot about the true nature of our creation whenever a previously unconnected group is placed together – whether by choice, chance or circumstance. Our group had a couple of things in common: we were all somehow connected to this bible study class and all had a desire to travel on this tour through Italy – simple enough. Now there are other situations that we find ourselves in when we become part of a group, for instance school and classmates, work and colleagues, maybe the military and our company. Larger bonds can form around university alma mater, cities or the state you live in, or maybe even sports teams you root for. There is an integral part of our being which makes us social creatures. Scientists say that is because our chances of survival increase dramatically when we are associated with each other in groups. So it is a matter of survival of the fittest. Those ancient ancestors of ours that associated in groups survived – the loners did not.
Now back to our little tour group. So as we got to know one another, this pack instinct quickly identified those in the group that may have needed more attention than others, you know, those that may be slower or older, or possibly incapacitated to some degree. Maybe even some of us that weren’t so much physically challenged, but may have had a tendency to wander ahead or linger behind. Our ‘nature’ informed us as social creatures, that our chain was only as strong as the weakest link. So instinctually there were several group members that quickly became unofficial guardians of those potentially ‘in-need’ members of what had now become ‘our group’. In less than 24 hours of being connected, and with little other than our tour badges forming our union – we now had established a hierarchy that enabled our group to get on with it. What a great reminder of our Creator’s purpose.
It just so happens that today’s first reading is from the book of Acts 4:32-35 and speaks to this very primary of Christian principles – in short – leave no one behind:
“…The whole group of those who believed was of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.
With great power the Apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need…”
A lot may read this and see it as an invitation to communism – something that sends chills down the spine of every red blooded capitalist on the earth. To consider selling everything you have and placing it at the feet of the church is quite a feat – one that requires extraordinary belief and trust. A belief that the church will use the gift for those in need, but even more so, trust that your needs would also be cared for. This is apparently much more trust than most have, and a greater a sacrifice than most of us is willing to make. But we shouldn’t just stop here completely. We can still adjust our attitudes without necessarily selling the big screen. We could simply begin by imagining each and every other human being as a member of our tour group. We all have a couple of things in common. We are all children of God and we are all being called to his kingdom. Heck, I have seen great friendships blossom simply because both parties were Yankee fans…and others because both parties were not!
So here’s the point – Hillary was right – it does take a village – a really big village of each of us watching out for each other, and all of us being watched out for by God in that very same way.