“For God is the One working in you both to will and to work according to His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
I have always been a bit of an idealist (okay… a big-time idealist!), especially when it comes to matters of the Christian faith. I see things differently than most. I see things that ought to be… and wonder why they aren’t that way. Mostly, I see a vision for God’s people that is very different from the reality of most churches.
In general, I see Christianity as largely ineffective in today’s world (especially in Europe and the Americas). It seems to me that we are not making the impact that we should be making in our culture… or our world. This really bothers me… and maybe, you as well.
But it’s not from a lack of knowledge. Christians are often very well-educated in matters of the faith. We know our doctrine (generally). We know our creeds and traditions (mostly). We know our Bible stories. We know enough about the Bible to have a good sense of what God likes and dislikes – and about the importance of Jesus to our salvation.
In short, most Christians know enough to BE good Christians. And yet, for the most part, we seem so far away from what we ought to be. I look into the Book of Acts, when the Church was just beginning, and I see a “brand” of Christianity that seems far superior to what we see in our churches today. In comparison to the early Church (in all honesty) we don’t compare very well.
I’m the kind of person who wants to know why… and to know what is causing the great discrepancy between what we were called to be (as revealed in the book of Acts!) and what we are now (not very much like the Book of Acts).
All my study has led me to believe that what we see in Acts is NORMAL Christianity. After Jesus left, Jesus was still alive and apparent… working through His people. Miracles were happening. Lives were being changed. Whole cities and regions were being compelled to receive the truth of Christ. And the whole world was discovering the reality (and the wonder) of knowing and loving the Savior of the world (Acts 17). It’s like Jesus never left!
What did they have that we don’t? Why were they able to “turn the whole world upside down” but we haven’t? Are we missing something? If so, what?
Over the next few days, I want to try to answer these questions and provide a challenge to Christians everywhere – to simply BE what we were made to be.
It’s really as simple as that.
Think about what we are claiming as Christians… we are saying that the Almighty God, the Creator of all things, Whose power is unlimited, Whose knowledge is incontrovertible, Whose love is immutable, and Whose Presence is inescapable… is actually living WITHIN us.
IF that is really true… that truth should be irrefutable as seen through our lives.
And that is the whole point. We say that Christianity is not about religion, but relationship. And no minor relationship at that… we are in a relationship with the Most Amazing Being to ever exist. Who lives within us. Who works through us.
And this is utterly and completely normal…
I believe that the book of Acts highlights some important principles that the family of believers should seek to live by. However, I do not believe that the book is prescriptive (do x and y, and z will happen), per se.
Your blog post has prompted me to read through the book of Acts again! Let me go through it and I’ll get back to you with some additional thoughts. 🙂 – it has been a while since I’ve read through the book through in full, so it will be a good exercise for me!
Thanks for reading and offering your thoughts. I look forward to your further comments. The challenge is always to discover the fullness of what God has for us… and, it seems to me, that Acts gives us a pretty good insight into how the early Church understood the task that Jesus had given them. It is my observation that today’s believers live far beneath the provision of God for their lives… and we need to rediscover what God has so graciously provided to us through the work of our Savior. This series of thoughts (in the coming week) seeks to challenge us, as believers, to think bigger and seek greater — in accord with what God has so done for us. I look forward to, and value, your thoughts!
I agree! We are, generally speaking, living far below our spiritual inheritance and that is not good! I look forward to hearing your thoughts as you blog along this journey….