Despite good intentions, the five friends who sought to follow in Jesus’ footsteps by forming an extended Christian family last year were ill-prepared for the realities of living closely in community.
Two married couples, with five young children between them, moved with a like-minded bachelor into a dilapidated house in Billings, Montana, determined to live a life of simplicity and charity, cutting their living expenses to the bone so they could give generously to the needy and love their neighbors and one another unconditionally.
They were inspired by the early Christians in Jerusalem, who sold all they owned and shared everything, “with one accord…with gladness and singleness of heart.”
“Our focus has to be on God and the way of life he has set out for us, as opposed to the way we want to live, which is very selfish,” said one of the Billings husbands. “Church is not something we attend. It’s something we are,” added the bachelor.
Ironically, after four months together they had not as yet met a single neighbor nor given aid. According to Stephanie Simon, writing in the Los Angeles Times, “When it came to food, clothing, and entertainment, they had not been able to agree on ground rules, beyond a vague vow ‘to live a continually more modest lifestyle.'”