Talk about simple: first-century Christians met in homes or other places to worship and share Christ’s message. There were no special buildings set aside for church. This was an organic gathering of people who shared beliefs and faith. For the first Christians, worship was a much more intimate thing than we experience today.
Many of us lose sight of the fact that, in the beginning, Christianity was a radical, grassroots movement, a subculture, and not the norm. Now that Christianity is mainstream, in some circles, we’ve gotten a bit big for our britches. For just a moment, think what it would be like if the opposition to our faith was similar to the opposition the efforts to legalize same-sex marriage. First-century Christians often had to meet in secret and be “in the closet” about their faith.
In some ways, we have grown complacent in our edifices of worship. Our sanctuaries offer a certain safety from the rest of the world and a buffer from other streams of thought. This can lead to passivity in our faith. We’re more willing to have our faith spoon fed to us rather than actively engage with one another and God. Truly, this is not what discipleship is about.
The question we should ask ourselves is this: How can we be more faithful to incarnating the presentness of God in our lives in the here and now?
Do we stop worshiping in the same place? I’m afraid that genie is long out of the bottle. Instead, let’s think of the ways our sanctuary confines us. Do you feel that the only time you connect with God and the people of your community of faith is on Sunday morning? How do you go beyond that? How can you start connecting with God and others right now?
It is cliché to say faith is something we live and not something we do every Sunday morning. We all know this. But do we practice it enough?
Our community of faith has a long history of standing for social justice in our community and in the world at large. We share of ourselves when others are in need. We show compassion to strangers. We take this part of our faith very seriously. Can we do more?
While we reach out to those in our community, do we do enough to show that love and compassion to people in our own community of faith? Are we too choosy in the groups we do reach out to on the outside?
Can we do the hard work of reaching beyond the safety of our church walls and spending time in a place or with people who are beyond our comfort zone? It is scary, but thinking back to those first-century Christians, I’m certain it was far more frightening for them.
Think about it. How do we show more love and compassion in a world that often rejects those offers?