Monday, February 20, 2012


Right now I'm reading a really good book called Free People: A Christian Response to Global Economics by Tricia Gates Brown. I came across an interesting Greek word: οἰκονομία or oikonomia. The word is used throughout the New Testament for "economy," and is translated in Greek as "house-keeping" or "stewardship of household affairs." Brown reveals the depth of Jesus' call to "come and follow" when held against the socioeconomic backdrop of peasants living in Palestine in the First Century. The followers of Jesus, most of them trapped in poverty, relied upon family connections, and extended family connections in order to survive from day to day (due mostly to extreme taxes from both Rome and the Herodian ruling family). So when Jesus called folks to follow him, it meant breaking ties with both your relatives and the economic ties of that family life. You were now part of the "family of God," relying on your brothers and sisters for survival. This is why Jesus, on several occasions, uses pretty harsh language about family when referring to the commitment of following him (Luke 8, Matthew 10).

Now this concept of economics being "in-house," makes the early church of Acts (specifically discussed in Acts 2:44-46; Acts 4:32-35) sound much less radical. Having family, specifically family that contributes economically, was vital to survival in First Century Palestine, it was simply a way of life. If Jesus called his disciples to "come and follow him," then they were asked to cut economic ties, and most of the time relational ties as well, with their immediate family and enter into the family of God. This new family was now their economic family. Looking out for their family's economic needs was part of life, for peasants and fisherman alike, it was essential to life. How many of us view our sisters and brothers as actual sisters and brothers. With our time, or relationship and essential to all, our economics? "There were no needy ones among them" takes on a new meaning when we look at Jesus followers as brothers and sisters, not just neighbors.