Acts 4:32–5:11, Equality in the Economy of Psyche

Verse 4:32: “Not a man of them claimed any of his possessions as his own, but everything was held in common, while the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. They were held in high esteem for they never had a needy person among them.”

Let’s consider the meaning of this scripture for the inner world of psyche.

We know from daily experience that we possess a varied array of affects/feelings, emotions, perceptions, sensations, images, thoughts, etc. We can feel volleyed between competing desires, opposing emotions, discordant thoughts, and conflicting images/daydreams.

If we consider each of these as a “person” (or character) in our psyche, the scripture tells us that the psychic energy (libido) within the desire, emotion, thought, or image belongs to the whole economy of the psyche. It is there to serve the common good of our being.

We have been trained to dismiss, repress, ignore, and demonize a variety of affects. Emotions such as enjoyment, excitement, and surprise may be welcomed in relationships. But other emotions, such as distress, anger, fear, shame, disgust, and repulsion, often meet with disapproval. We learn to disown and deny our feelings. When this happens, our feelings own us instead of us possessing our feelings.

We all have had experiences of being carried away by our feelings. Something happens and we find ourselves consumed, taken over by anger, or fear, or repulsion. We were having a good day, then “this” happened. The “this” may be an unpleasant exchange with a spouse or coworker, getting delayed in traffic, receiving an unexpected bill, etc. The “this” activates an affect/feeling and we are pulled off center. We suddenly are “beside ourselves.”

The apostles knew the transformative power of bringing all we have to the community. Internally, a part of us knows the value of possessing each of our feelings (and the resulting emotions, perceptions, images, etc.) and using it for the highest good of our whole Self. We need the psychic energy within each emotional state to live the fullness of our soul. God Within flows through each of those internal energy states.

Our anger is God Within letting us know that we need to make a change. Too often, our ego/self uses anger to attack someone else. The anger is the psychic fuel we need to take a different action. Disgust is an emotion that lets us know we are not attracted to something. It doesn’t mean the object (food, place, or person) is wrong. It is information about our psyche.

We get off track when we attribute the source of our affects/feelings to other people and the outer world. When we realize feeling originate within, we practice what the early Christian community did. We bring the possession, the affect/feeling (and its extensions), to God Within. We open to how we can use the energy for the highest good of our psyche/soul. When we do this, our actions in the outer world will also serve the highest good.

We have to be conscious in order to possess our feelings. When we are unconscious or unaware, the feelings rule and we act in service of the one affect versus the whole of we are. We create all kinds of problems for ourselves internally and in our relationships when we withhold from ourselves. We need to offer our possessions of feelings to God Within. Then, the energies can be used for the common good of our whole self.

Inner Reflection

On a sheet of paper, list the following affects/feelings: joy, surprise, excitement, distress, anger, fear, shame, disgust, and repulsion. Where do you deny those feelings? Where do you indulge them? Where do you act out of one feeling to the detriment of God Within and others? Dialogue with each affect as it arises and take it to God Within for guidance on how it can serve the whole of psyche/soul. Act accordingly.