All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. (Acts 4:32)
Natalie and I have always freely shared our cars, especially with our students. It’s not uncommon that I don’t even know where my car is! Over the years, our cars have carried tons of equipment and food for ministry meetings, and hundreds of students to churches, camps, and service events. Our cars have prowled the streets of Baltimore at night as students have reached out to help women caught in the sex trade. They’ve received their fair share of parking tickets and, every once in a while, they get dinged up.
It’s our joy to share our belongings with others in this way! This is a truer picture of Church. This is the kind of radical community that we are called to live with each other. And it’s easier to do so when we remember that God has provided these possessions for us in the first place. My car was practically given to me by our friend Grace (I paid just $2,000) because she knew that we would use it for the Kingdom.
So when one of my students called me last week, telling me through her sobbing that she had crashed my car, I reacted as family would – relieved that she was okay, comforting her, rushing to meet her and take care of her, with barely an afterthought about the car itself. We forgive her and ask for nothing from her, though of course, as part of our community, she wants to help us get another car if we need it. This too is a truer picture of the Church, and a picture of the gospel as well. We have all crashed God’s creation, yet he forgives us through His Son Jesus, asking for no payment, only faith. What a joy for us to live out this example of God’s love and forgiveness and grace to our students!
This isn’t a one-way, top-down street either. Our students have blessed us in equally extravagant ways that we don’t deserve. Just this year when my computer died, the entire fellowship, partly led by the student who crashed the car, surprised me with $1,000 towards a new computer (which I used to write this post). Before our marriage, our students similarly blessed us with $1,500 towards our honeymoon to Jamaica, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise. And I’ve experienced the same thing as my student – I rear-ended my friend Kristina, but she and her husband paid for their new bumper and forgave me the debt. Church doesn’t keep accounts, but pushes us towards Christ by reenacting for each other what Christ has done for us.