Christmas Cheer and the Early Church

My kids are some of the luckiest in the world (okay, most providentially blessed!). They have all but one of their great-grandparents still living, they have numerous aunts and uncles and cousins and great-everythings. This means Christmas is a present blow-out! Toys, clothes, giftcards – you name, they get it.

With all of this in mind, then, it made me pretty frustrated when at one family visit, my oldest son (5 yrs old) cried out, “but I don’t have enough presents!” He had opened his gifts faster than his sister and younger brother, and it seemed they were getting more than him. After trying to remind him how fortunate he was compared to so many other kids in the world, I began to reflect on the ingratitude and selfishness most of us adults show in our lives. Getting ready to preach through Acts, I was thinking about this in light of what Luke tells us about the early church:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 ESV)

“All things in common” – isn’t amazing how far we have come in the last 2000 years! Where along the way did we lose such Spirit-led living? While I have observed first-hand how other Christians around the world seem to live much closer to this, the Church in the western world has a lot to learn. We are often far more concerned with comfort than sacrifice, I think. And yet what is surely a picture of God’s design for his people sees them living in loving unity, willingly giving from what God has given them to ensure their brothers and sisters in Christ have all that they need.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so hard on my son? After all, it seems that he was just following the example he has seen from those around him. Maybe this year I can give him a better one to follow.


  1. John, great to see you’ve joined the blogging universe. I share a blog site with my friend John DePoe at It’s called “Fides Quaerens Intellectum”. It’s primarily a philosophical blog but we often blog on items of theology and religion as well (as the name of the blog implies). I’ve been meaning to call you and catch up. Things have been swirling fast since I moved from Kalamazoo this past spring. When is a good time to call? I have a cell phone now (no land line) and after 9pm or on the weekends works best for me.James McGlothlin

  2. hey james, good to hear from you! a good time to call would probably be when we are back in town (we’re visiting family this week). maybe next monday pm? call my cell – if you don’t have the number zip me an email and i will send it to you. p.s. – how goes the phd program?

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