It seems ironic that the first few chapters of Acts and indeed the teachings of Jesus did not influence subsequent “Christian” societies to create much more egalitarian societies. How is it that the “Christian” West, supposedly influenced by Christian faith and ethics, has become the origin and home of “free market capitalism”? How can a Christian society be an unequal one? Where is the sense of sharing and desire for economic equality within communities and between communities?
Perhaps the recorded sayings in the gospels, in the letter of James and in Acts were recorded because after the events it was not happenning, the church was unequal and failing to be what Christ intended. After the church became part of the empire of Constantine pagan and not Christian values prevailed more than truely Christian ones.
The lives of St Francis and others stand testimony to a revolt against material selfishness and aquisition of wealth but they were then and remain a minority strand of living in Christian history down to the present. The poverty and simplicity of Francis has been called an “Evangelical” (good news) counsel, along with enshrining an obedience to the words of Jesus about wealth and possessions in the gospels. The sharing is part of the kingdom of God and the reign of the Christ. The kingdom is not just some happy ending after death, as” saved” souls in heaven. Its about also a dawning reality of new relationships for the believer with his and her neighbours in the present.
Perhaps we cannot expect secular society to adopt economic equality as a goal but surely “Christian” politicians should care more about reducing differences and divisions of income? Surely Christian politicans should preach shaing values and not competitive ones, Interestingly Communism and Socialism, hated by some Christians , have more in common with the values and sharing expressed by Jesus and in Acts.
Sometimes it seems that “Christian” politics cares more about unborn babies in the womb rather than for the conditions into which they may be born and have to live out their lives, often in poverty alongside some -one elses mansions.
The Francisan tradition still stands testimony to the more radical sharing of things in common and decent life for everyone. The more we have inherited and earn the more we must consider that we give away and share with our neighbours, and seek more the alleviation of need alongside anything we may possess. Perhaps we should ask our Christian politicians if they care about that. But at least we should attempt to live it ourselves.