Put Sensual Needs in Their Place-Acts 2:41f

   Infants, terrible in their dominance, act only in the senses.

   Juveniles, writhing in their hormones, explode in the senses.

   An adult, cautious in all actions, learns to treasure the spiritual with the sensual, as he/she comes to know the durability of the spiritual.

   The early Church reaches critical mass, catches a triggering device and splits the atom. Imagine the logistics of exponential growth. Three thousand come in one day. How much of a day would be used to baptize three thousand people, by any means, even if the preacher did not feel obligated to speak a word over each one?

   The Church finds the main thing and holds it for awhile. People remain in a holy focus (awe). Appropriate doctrine reaches eager ears. Affection and nurturing spread through the Holy Community. People outside the Holy Community cannot help but notice, then ask.

   Then, the sensual intrudes. The Holy Community tries to apply the common purse to the greater number. Understand, in the Apostolic Band, a common purse, held by Judas, supports the itinerant ministry of the twelve plus the Christ. It is not surprising that is the organizational model the Church chooses to meet its logistical challenge.

   Let me stop to define "sensual need." All the needs of the flesh on which a bi-pedal, carbon based life form daily depend can be characterized as "of the senses." We sense hunger, thirst, fatigue, heat, cold. We can tell when a weather change is about to occur, some of us, according to the amount of joint damage the years accreted to us.

   Sensual needs may be as emotional as they are physical. All of us know the fellow who feeds on gossip, the woman who feasts on bad news, the chronic volunteer, the serial revival rededicator, the leader who must make people choose between one or the other and so both exhausts the agendaless and energizes the agenda driven, to the detriment of all.

   Sadly, the juvenile mindset inists on a certain feeling for its spirituality, dooming the Holy Community to frustrating repetition of bygone normative experiences, which themselves both become represented as holy and replace the holy.

   The early Church tries communal living in its massive growth movement. The experiment proves a dismal failure. What works for twelve traveling preachers does not much work for three thousand (and growing) families from diverse cultures. One sates the senses only temporarily. Mammals, warm blooded, require food every four to six hours, water more often and are sensitive to changes in the air around us.

   The early Church, in a burst of unreasoned generosity, tries communal living, discovers this creates massive problems in the fellowship (Acts 6) and, in turn, then finds it is racing for the bottom of the social-economic ladder in its culture. Soon, Paul will be asking Corinth to send financial relief to Jerusalem, the birth place of the Holy Community.

   Put sensual needs in their place. Emergency relief is one thing. Communal living is another, if it breeds dependence rather than call persons to salvation as a full partner in the Holy Community.

   What should we learn? Forgive my pedantry, here, I apologize, knowledgeable as I am my readers are a cut above the norm.

   We might learn not to take our doctrine or even our polity, unquestioned, from the Book of Acts. The early Church learns as it goes. The clear-word gospels and retro-fit epistles point ahead to and back at the Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles/Holy Community.

   We might learn that what works for one group at one time in one circumstance (the common purse of the twelve) does not translate to 3,000 and more, spread over a cultural landscape. The standard of Christ, sensually, is to "..have no place to lay his head, no home…" and may not lend itself to establishment of a localized church body.

   We might learn to reorganize in every aspect in order to go on to the next level of growth, if we believe growth, not simple refinement, is what God intends.

   We might learn to clear up "spiritual leaders" (those set in front of us to mentor rather than over us to command) to do spiritual ministry rather than figure out how to pay for bricks.

   We could learn to apply spiritual growth principles, i.e., reverence God, stick together, tell the truth, experience family in the Holy Community and rejoice at new members rather than fear outsiders, in place of sensual dependence.

   We might just learn that God meets all needs. Our task is always to be faithful.


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