And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one [of them] claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.
I am tempted to get on a political soap box whenever I read the verses about the early church holding all things in common. This is neither the time nor the place for that soap box.
What I feel compelled to focus on this morning is that the congregation was of one heart and soul. It is that unity which makes what follows possible. It is that unity which believers are commanded to preserve (Ephesians 4:3). Unity is what enabled the apostles to preach the message with boldness. Unity is what brought down abundant grace on the entire body. Unity is what made those believers able to hold all things as common property. Absent that unity, nothing that follows can happen.
Today, we believers are fractured. There are many denominations and many larger schisms like the one between Catholic and Protestant. Many of these breaks are over inconsequential things like whether or not women wear makeup (As one wise preacher once said: If the barn needs painting, paint it) or whether hands should be lifted in praise (Hint: Yes) or whether we use matzo or tortillas for Communion (I made that last one up, but it sounds plausible enough). There are plenty of trifling matters that we really should just get over ourselves on and focus on what we have in common: our faith in Christ.
Before I run too far down this path, let it be said that there are plenty of legitimate reasons for us to have broken fellowship with one another. Those folks who think I can become a believer and remain as I was before Christ redeemed me have obviously not read The Bible. Christ wants to change me and it is the Holy Spirit’s singular mission to do precisely that. I cannot remain as I was before I was saved. Those folks who want to cherry pick some verses in the gospels as the words of Christ need my prayers, but not my fellowship. Anyone who wants to make Jesus anything less than God in human flesh needs my prayers and my open rebuke if they purport to be a believer, but not my fellowship. There are legitimate reasons to sever ties and these should never be glossed over for the sake of unity.
The unity of the Holy Spirit is a unity that is in agreement with what God reveals to us in His Word. When I agree with God and everyone in the fellowship also agrees with God, then God becomes the unifying point and we have unity, not because we tried to make it happen but because it is a byproduct of our agreement with God. I have a brother-in-law who is far more charismatic than I. His church is, also. We often laugh about the fact that it seems every time I visit his church, they are extra charismatic. They do things those Sundays that he can go years without seeing. Nothing wrong or disorderly, just uncomfortable for me. And that is why we laugh about it, because it makes me uncomfortable, but it does not break our unity. We are still brothers in Christ (and brothers-in-law) and our unity is not based on anything so superficial as whether his fellowship waves flags around like a high school color guard (this happened during one visit, true story) or whether my fellowship is quiet and reserved. Our unity is based on Christ, and He does not change (and He makes us all uncomfortable from time to time).
Let me preserve the unity that is of the Holy Spirit and allow any man-made unity to fall to pieces as it inevitably will.