Experiencing Authentic New Testament Christianity

Author’s note: Sorry to have been away so long.  The better part of this post was actually written last May, but the last year turned out to be very eventful, so my musings got put on hold.  This morning, I woke up with some thoughts that I wanted to put down in writing, but found the draft of this post instead, and realized it said a lot of what I had on my mind.

In my observation there seems to be a huge upsurge of people within the both the evangelical and charismatic Christian traditions seeking something more authentic in their Christianity.  Many are looking to the 1st century church and asking themselves: does what we do line up with what they did?  Does what we are doing look like what Jesus meant for the church to look like?  These are good questions, but at times I fear in our quest for “authentic New Testament Christianity” we may miss the point. Here are some of the points I hear from various different camps looking for authentic Christianity:

  • We should meet in houses, because that’s what the first church did
  • We should have spiritual fathers, like Paul’s relationship with Timothy
  • We should have/recognize modern-day apostles like there were in 1st century
  • We should be experiencing miracles like the 1st century church
  • We should be experiencing church growth like the first century church
  • We should have church structure that matches the first century church
  • Our church government needs to match the first century church

I don’t wish to argue the validity of any of the above statements.  They may all be true, but my concern is that all these points miss the main point.  And if we miss the main point, then our perspective on every other point (which includes those above) will be be wrongly skewed.

So what’s the main point?  When the first century church started out they didn’t know how they were going to do any of those things.  They had only three things, (1) Jesus had loved them in a way that completely broke them to the core, and ruined them for all else, (2) He had told them that they were to love one another in this same way (!), and (3) they knew they will completely and utterly incapable of doing so in their own power!  Point #2 ought to alarm us!  If it does not, than we do yet have a revelation of the depth and power of God’s love.  As I have said on other posts, the greatest miracle on Pentecost was not the tongues or the miracles that followed, but the fact that this group of misfits who just a few short weeks before had been vying for position, now miraculously began to love one another to the point that they were “selling their property and possessions and sharing them with all as anyone had need.” (Acts 2:44-45)

So, it seems to me if we want to experience a Christianity like that which was experienced by the first century church (and I’m not sure we fully do, but that’s another subject altogether), we need to experience the same kind of love they did, and if we want to experience the same kind of love, then our only path is to gather together in prayer with others of like mind and ask Him to send His Spirit into our midst and empower us to be like, and to love like Him. (Acts 1:14)

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2 responses to “Experiencing Authentic New Testament Christianity

  1. I wish I had personally seen the churches that are striving for this first century feel. I’m always complaining about American churches (not that I’ve attended any other) due to the flashiness and impersonal experiences I’ve had. I don’t want to walk into a church and everything I see makes me wonder how many water wells in Africa could’ve been built with the money it cost. I don’t want to praise the pastor, I want to worship Jesus. I want to hear the congregation singing rather than obnoxious Christian rock blasting through the speakers.

    But I completely agree with your post. I believe often times churches attempt to fix superficial wounds when the problem is internal. I could get past churches trying to be “trendy” and more “modern” if I felt they were loving each other above all else. But many of these people have not allowed themselves to be loved in a way that would ruin them for all else. Like I said, the only churches I’ve encountered that are actually rewinding instead of trying to stay ahead of “the latest” are Catholic churches and they’re simply replacing that love with tradition and ritual.

    • Alayna,
      Sorry to have taken so long to answer your post. I think I delayed because it made me think of so many things at once, and I really didn’t know where to start, but your other recent comment reminded me of this one, so thought I’d come back to it. Suppose the bottom line is we don’t have to wait for a church to come along who is striving for 1st century feel. In telling us that He would be with us whenever 2 or 3 were gathered in His name, Jesus was empowering us to experience New Testament church life for ourselves, and not wait for some “official person” to sanction what we were doing. We don’t need to find a group of 1000, 100 or 30, we only need to find one or two others who want to live life like Jesus did. We can meet “house to house” or even coffee shop to coffee shop with them, and as we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us from there, we can experience the life of Christ in us and through us. I have more to say on this topic than I have time to write right now, but I at least want to affirm your desire to see this kind of church, and tell you I believe it is possible, but may take a lot of unlearning by those of us who have spent many years in the American church. I’m still in the process of unlearning, and am also doing my best to “hold fast to what is good” in the process.

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