Have you ever wondered how people could live together again like they did in the second chapter of the Book of Acts in the Bible?
Not only were they aware of each other’s needs, no one claimed that any of their possessions were their own, but they shared everything they had. People were even selling their homes and property to make sure that OTHERS had what they needed!?
People living like that aren’t a simple community, that’s a group of people living in “communitas.”
Like sports teams that endure long difficult seasons, or soldiers who share a foxhole, communitas refers to that bond that comes from being in a place where you have no choice but to depend on those around you. A place where people have your back and you have theirs!
A zombie movie might seem like a strange place to find communitas, yet it is there for everyone to plainly see EVERY TIME!
If you’re not familiar with the genre, let me tell you what happens in EVERY zombie movie. (For the record, I’m not a big zombie movie fan. But I have gotten hooked watching a few zombie television programs- The Walking Dead and Z Nation. Although I have to be in the right mood.) Inevitably, most of the human race is wiped out by a catastrophic event and only a small group of people survive and are pitted against an overwhelming number of flesh eating zombies who have nothing to do but try to eat you, the living. (if you get bit by a zombie, you become one, sometimes if you die naturally, you become one too!)
Again, like clockwork, a small group of people of varying backgrounds are thrown together for a common mission- to stay alive and find a safe place to live (there is usually an ultimate location to get to where other living are successfully surviving).
Not only are these people fighting for their lives against the zombies, but there are internal conflicts within the surviving group. Some are criminals. Others are cowards. There is greed and selfishness. Betrayal. Lust. And murder. But despite these obstacles a core group of people begin to coexist-many times against their will ON A MISSION…TOGETHER.
It isn’t long before food and water supplies dwindle, yet they find it and SHARE it.
When the zombie hoards overwhelm their current safe haven, they FIGHT TOGETHER to escape.
On the road they encounter more life threatening situations which DRAW THEM TOGETHER once again to stay on mission.
On and on it goes…day after day… they pull together, one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. Oops! That is EXACTLY what Acts 2:32 says!?! At least in the New International Version. Your Bible might say it a bit differently, but the idea is the same.
It seems to me that the early church was aware of a catastrophic event that left a small group of people on a mission together and who are now pitted against an overwhelming number of “enemies.”
The analogy actually doesn’t break down from there…it actually strengthens! The main difference is that we can LOVE our “enemies” back to Life!
The Message Version of the Bible does a good job of describing how that battle is fought:
“The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 MSG
So, how is communitas created? The simple answer is to have a group of people dedicated to working together in a seemingly impossible mission against an overwhelming enemy.
Hmmmm….sounds eerily familiar!