The Church I Want To Belong To Today.
The future of the church is ancient.
This is a phrase I heard recently and it struck a cord within me. What this person mean't was that we too often are looking forward into the gloom of the unknown that we lose sight, and often forget, the wisdom and practices of our past. As has been said before, new is not always better.
Contrary to some of the forms of Christianity around us today, the early church did not try to grow by being like everyone around them; they grew by lovingly but unflinchingly confronting "paganism" is all its forms, all while setting up their own culture. My question. What is that culture?
Could the catalyst for the next Great Awakening be found in the example of the early believers? I want you to read the words of one early Christian as he describes how the early church played out after the writings of what we find in the book of Acts. His description of second century Christians is gripping and wonderfully poetic:
They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others and yet endure all things as foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all others; they beget children ; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of of heaven. they obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and restored to life. They are poor yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things and yet abound in all; they are dishonored and yet in their very dishonor are glorified.
They are evil spoken of and yet are justified; they are reviled and bless; they are insulted and repay the insult with honor; they do good yet are punished as evildoers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred. To sum it all up in one word: what the soul is to the body, Christians are in the world. (The Epistle to Diognetes, c. AD 130)
That is the church I want to belong to today!
This church was something to behold. They lived out their mission in the world, they sacrificed everything they had for the Kingdom, and they had utter dependence upon the power of God. They were bold; they were courageous. What if our churches were filled with this level of power and passion? I believe they can be. Let's lock it firmly in our heads that this church changed the world, and we can, too.
The future of the church is ancient. The early church lived out their love for Jesus and this multiplied their numbers at an alarming rate. God added thousands to their numbers daily. That same God is alive today and he is just as powerful. It's not about forms or patterns; it's not about being good people or performing miracles. Ultimately, it is about Christ and the way we live out our love for him.