When I concluded my thirty-eight year career of pastoring in 1996, [1958-1996] I did so by teaching through the book of Acts verse by verse for over a year on Wednesday nights to some Adults and young people who were ready to learn. I must say, it was an exciting biblical journey and no one learned as much as did I.
Since that journey through the book of Acts, I've said many times that one of the things that amazed me was how simple those early christians were in their grasp of the christian experience. There were no seminars, workshops, revivals, retreats, or bookstores to feed them information on how to study their bibles, pray, witness, grow a marriage, raise children, or effectively live the christian life. Yet they were characterized by the POWER of God in all they did even in the midst of struggles, failures, persecution, and the reaction of their culture around them because their message seemed so offensive to so many in that culture.
It could very well be that the problem with modern day christianity, when compared to that of the book of Acts, is not the LOSS of their POWER but the LOSS of their SIMPLICITY. They seemed to have such a simple confidence in who Jesus really is and in what He really did in His life and in His death for them that they viewed HIM as being genuinely sufficient for the living of life to its very fullest. In other words, they seemed to live believing Jesus was ENOUGH.
Did they know something we don't? Have we lost something they had?
It's almost as if they somehow saw Jesus as the SOURCE of what real life was all about. It would be good for us to remember that I'm using the word "source" as the word that refers to "A spring or fountainhead from which something comes or flows that is essential." The "source" differs from "resource" because the latter means "An asset that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function more effectively." I'm thinking the average person who calls themselves a christian in our present day really views Jesus Christ as a "resource" for making things better. He can help make a marriage, a family, a church, even a life, function more effectively.
But for those in Acts it was something more. It was true for them that He was the "source" OF life, He didn't make their lives BETTER. He WAS the fountain head of their life. He didn't make their marriage, family or even their church better. He made their marriage, family, church, even their life itself.. POSSIBLE. So for someone to threaten to take their life if they didn't recant their faith in Him was ridiculous. He was, in fact, their very LIFE. Who He was/is in His life and what he did at the cross in His death is the very thing needed for life to be life as God intended it. That was why it was called "gospel" or "good news."
So today we find ourselves with a bunch of religious resources for making things [life] function a bit better. Bible reading, church attendance, prayer, revivals, conferences, denominations, conventions, all of which can make us better people religiously if we would just do them faithfully. In fact, they have come to DEFINE our christianity.
Add to those the resources that should/could be ours if people would think and vote correctly, [sarcasm alert] prayer in school, freedom to read the bible in class, freedom to thank Jesus Christ for letting us win, [whatever we're competing in] and we would have what it takes for living life the very best way possible, especially in America. So we spend our time talking about the "resources" instead of the "source" and we find ourselves living life accordingly.
As I said..."Did they know something we don't? Have we lost something they had?"
Me thinks the answer might be.."Well, yes!"