About 10 miles (16 km) from where I grew up is the Douglas County, Illinois (USA) Old Order Amish community. To most outsiders, that conjures up images of men wearing large black hats and beards, women attired in very plain dresses and aprons, children going barefoot in the summertime, and everyone riding around in horsedrawn buggies. That is accurate to a point, but it does not scratch the surface of who the Amish truly are.
They are an essentially self-contained community which depends as little as possible on the outside world for their needs. That is due in large part to the fact that they have learned the difference between actual needs and frivolous luxuries. And they have subordinated individual desires to community necessities. They allowed the selfless value of “we-us-ours” to subvert the selfish notion of “I-me-mine.”
Rather than spend large amounts of money on household insurance policies, it is understood that one person’s loss is a community responsibility, such as when a barn burns down or when a house is destroyed by a severe wind storm. At those times, true fellowship kicks in and a spirit of community runs rough-shod over the disaster.
There is what is considered private ownership of houses and other property, but it is understood that if one person has need of something which another person owns, it is there for the borrowing, knowing that the borrower will one day reciprocate with possessions of his own.
For those who are ready to shout, “Socialism!” let’s read Acts 2:44-47.
“All of the Lord’s followers often met together, and they shared everything they had. They would sell their property and possessions and give the money to whoever needed it. Day after day, they met together in the temple. They broke bread together in different homes and shared their food happily and freely, while praising God. Everyone liked them, and each day the Lord added to their group others who were being saved.” (CEV)
So, why does so much of the mainline church fail to operate like that today? Because they allowed the selfish notion of “I-me-mine” to sabotage the selfless value of “we-us-ours.”