I know. I know. Elsewhere I have talked lot about the role that the Doubting Thomas Story plays in the overall story of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection. And all of that is true. But, today something else jumps out at me.
The story of the Christian Utopia that exists at the beginning of the book of Acts (approx. 35-50 CE) has always intrigued later Christians. Maybe it is the discord between this image and the reality of their own era. Maybe it is the similarity (although I doubt it). The questions remain the same. “How can we again achieve that kind of spiritual interdependence?” The old days always seem more golden don’t they?
The historical record contains very little information about whether or not the early church actually existed in the form. Our earliest non-biblical accounts of the church contain only information of conflict and in-fighting. So, it is difficult to tell whether on not this description is true or just wishful thinking.
Whether or not the depiction is factual, the image is compelling. And it speaks to the type of community that would be most supportive to faith in general. I’m a big believer that “faith” is a muscle that must be trained. Whether it is faith in God or faith in other people, the work of faith is the same. So, if we don’t get at least some practice in trusting other people, we will never have the opportunity or even the ability to trust God in the way that we need to. Thus, a Utopian community, might just be the best type of community in which to develop the kind of faith necessary for salvific salvation.
But, what if we don’t live in that kind of community? What if we live in a normal community in which people are fallible, people lie and cheat and deceive? How can we ever attain the kind of faith in each other to make faith in God possible?
The good news is that it’s not as bad as all of that. The first step is to try our best to be trust-worthy ourselves.: to both model and frame the kind of trust that we expect. It may not exactly be Utopia, but it is a step in the right direction.