Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Christianity without 2000 years of history getting in the way

Sometimes I look at Jesus' life in the Bible and wonder how we ended up where we are. When you look at the life of Jesus there can seem to be a disconnect between what we see there and what we see all around us. As you see a big churches and church politics all around us. As you see Christianity which is built around structures and a few weekly meetings you can think how did we end up here. But I suppose the question is well where should we end up? What would Christians do if they didn't have 2000 years of history getting in the way?

Well I think perhaps the clearest answer to this question comes in Acts 2

'So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.'

So what do we have here? Well we have the first Christians. People have just heard the gospel. They've just come to believe that  Jesus died for their sins and accept the forgiveness he gives but now what? They have no church they can join, no tradition to fall into. Just the gospel and the Holy Spirit so what do they do? well they do the things the gospel naturally drives them to do so.

1 - They devote themselves to understanding the gospel more - When you first taste the gospel and experience it's power and release it is only natural that you want to know more of it, understand it better and so you devote yourself to learning more.
2 - They eat together - eating together is not only a natural way to spend time with people but also a sign of acceptance. As those who have all received the gospel into their lives it is natural they would long to spend time together and accept all people as those who have been rescued by a work of God not human achievement.
3 - They pray - As they understand and experience more of the gospel in their lives then of course they want to talk to the God who they can now approach in absolute confidence that he loves them and accepts them
4 - They saw and were in awe of God's incredible work - As you see the gospel work itself out in a myriad of ways it is only natural that you respond to God in awe as a God who works in incredible ways.
5 - They saw each others needs and cared for them - As those who recognise that when they could do nothing about their need of forgiveness and a new heart God stepped in and met that need it is only natural that they would then be driven out to do this for each other.
6 - They met formally (in the temple) and informally (in their homes) - Meeting formally was a natural way to all grow and learn together but the gospel naturally impacts all of life and therefore it can never be constricted simply to occasional meetings but must be a part of day by day life. Meeting with each other regularly in their homes was the norm as the gospel impacts this.

You see these early Christians didn't need 2000 years of Church history to do this stuff the gospel naturally drove them to it. Therefore what will create this kind of Christian community? Well the gospel. I don't need to tell people they need to learn more about the gospel but rather as they experience it of course they will want to learn more. It is the pearl of immense value which you seel everything to get. Of course you want more of it. I don't need to tell people to meet each others needs, or to attend church meetings, or to meet together - As the gospel goes deep into our hearts then this is what we will do. It wasn't the church or tradition which made these early Christians do this - they didn't exist. They simply heard the gospel and responded the only rational way anyone would.

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