Why can’t we just be…
July 24th, 2019
In today’s world there is a never-ending drive for more. That drive pervades every facet of our lives. The compulsion to have more, to obtain greater levels of wealth and prosperity, seem to be never ending.
We seem to recall a point in our history, perhaps when our mothers and fathers were young when ambition and drive were at times even considered foolish pursuits. Today however, even our churches are pushing for more membership, not because they necessarily want to reach more for Christ, but to have a bigger church and establish a level of status within the community.
As if, numbers add to credibility.
The early church grew by leaps and bounds, but it wasn’t because of an effort to build numbers. The early church was interested in one set of principles for the most part. To spread the Good News that the messiah that had been long awaited had come, he had given his life for all that they may no longer be forced to live in darkness, but instead have life eternal. They also, were focused on prayer and the study of God’s Word.
So much so, that instead of gathering more to themselves they actually divested of worldly possessions and sold much of what they had and combined their resources to assure that no one had to spend excessive energies and time to simply live. This allowed them to devote themselves to the things that they felt were most important to them; elevating Jesus Christ as they diminished their own standing in the light of men.
Not that they were rag muffins to be sure. They were respectable for they represented their Lord and Master, but they didn’t have to wear their faith on their sleeve, it was evident in their behavior and their hearts.
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.
Acts 2:42-45 (NLT)
If there is a difference between the way we live today and our grandparents (when our parents were young), then there is a sea change between us and the early church.
I don’t really believe we can draw any reasonable comparison between us and them, but if we seek to understand the motivations and what drove them, I think we can begin to understand where we’ve departed from the principles of the early church.
Not perfect people…
The early church wasn’t made up of perfect people. After all their latest apostle was once a murderous self-satisfied religious zealot, who sought out those who would become known as Christian and see to it that they pay for their blasphemy with their lives.
Even after Paul’s encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, Paul admitted in his writing that he was a flawed individual even after years of seeking to pattern his life after the one who in no uncertain terms, chose Paul to be the first of a long line of evangelistic missionaries.
I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
Romans 7:15-20 (NLT)
As you read through acts you get the clear understanding that there was dissention in this church and then as the church grew into the outlying countries, the problem persisted even further. You can see in the writings of the apostles to those churches.
Idol worship, divergence from the core of the Gospel to following individuals rather than the Master.
No, the early church was not perfect, in fact, if it were not for their intent on seeking to recreate themselves in the image of Jesus, we might not be reading this today. This may never have existed.
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.”
If we had to come down to one singular difference between us and the early church it would be devotion.
Our level of commitment to the propagation of the Good News to others is abhorrent at best in comparison. There were other attributes where we miss the mark today, but the focus of their lives was to devote themselves and all they owned to advance the Gospel of Jesus.
Satisfaction was dwelling in them because they didn’t toy with the Holy Spirit, they invited Him as an active participant in the teaching and learning of the Word. And just as we today seek satisfaction, that very thing we strive for is never really in our reach.
Those in the early church never reached the point of being fully satisfied because they realized what Jesus had done for them and how he had given more than they ever could compensate for.
When Paul wrote in the book of Romans…
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)
I do not believe that one person in the Roman church, was running straight into persecution and physical death was one bit surprised. When Paul said, ‘Living Sacrifice’, I’m certain that every believer who heard those words, knew Paul used them to contrast clearly with the threat that loomed over them.
They knew well what path they were on and though death posed an eminent threat to them they knew that no man could take the life that Christ Jesus had given them.
They were satisfied that their lot may indeed be physical death, but eternity abided in every heart of that church. That’s where they found their satisfaction.
What about me? What about us? Is it the next nice meal we feast on? Is it that new car or home we have worked so hard to acquire? Is it the vacation, the club, the hobby, the family, our church? And the list goes on and on.
Remember just as it was for the early church, complete satisfaction is not something that is attainable. It’s not in our nature to ever fully accomplish, we seek that which we have a passion for. We can only pursue it.
The key is what we seek satisfaction from.
Jesus nailed that one.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Matthew 6:33-34 (NLT)
We can be happy with the status quo. We can even be happy with having less than we have this moment. After all we live in excess as a people and culture. We can be happy as the early church was even when they faced death, because Jesus said just before this a few verses back…
Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
Matthew 6:20-21 (NLT)
Their hearts were vested in that eternal relationship they’d started with the Savior.
Are we seeking the kingdom of God just as the early church did? Or do we only feel we can be “Satisfied” with the trinkets the world dangles in front of us?
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
My prayer for all of us, myself included, is that we realize that Jesus has already given us everything we need, and we can only be truly “Satisfied” if we have yielded all to Him and rest in the knowledge that He is the only thing, and everything that we ever will need.
In the Grace of Jesus!