As I noted last week, I’m reflecting on a recent series of church conversations about beloved community. In one conversation, we noted how America remains a stubbornly individualistic society, while our faith tradition shows us the great value in maintaining common interests, mutuality, and collective support.

I’m not talking about communism here; that social system thrived on hierarchy and oppression while pretending to be mutual. Instead, I’m hearkening back to some of the values explicitly stated in the early church (Acts 2:44–46):

“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts.”

The good news is that, even here in America, small groups of Christians still seek to live like this. I’ve mentioned The Simple Way in the past as one example. The challenge, however, is that people seeking to live in community encounter a lot of obstacles to such mutuality because the rules and regulations of American society are built around the assumption of individual family units. Take,