We are in a pluralistic society; a society that has welcomed competing religions, with their competing worldviews to Christianity. We now have at the same table the option to believe only in yourself (Humanism), to believe in nothing (Nihilism / Atheism), and to believe in any number of gods of your choosing (Hinduism). You might be thinking “these religions have been around for centuries” what is the difference now? The difference is that in America the government along with the laws of the land used to rule with a Judeo-Christian Ethic that has changed. Christianity no longer basks in the forefront of the minds of the majority as the “right” religion. All has been welcomed to the table but Christianity might very well be under the table! With the dethroning, and the competition can Christianity survive? If so, how?
The book of Acts shows a Christianity that was birthed in an environment of competing worldviews, Yet Christianity survived, thrived and flourished. I think the book of Acts has a lot to say for Christians in our current society.
The Believers were United
While it’s true they were a small group, and one could reason that’s why they were on “one accord”, remember it’s also true that to have division all you need is two. Their unity was real, the writer of Acts used the greek word Koinonia to describe it, which is a deep, personal sharing and intertwining of lives. That doesn’t describe my usual conversation about the weather after church. Acts 2:1, Acts 2:46
The Believers Prayed without Ceasing…
The disciples were praying in the upper room, Peter prayed on the housetop, Ananias was praying, when Peter was locked up the other believers were praying for him. Cornelius the devout man prayed continually to God. They prayed continually and their prayers were not the usual two liners of our contemporary prayers, but rather you find in each instance time being spent in praying to God. God gave answers to their prayers, guidance and deliverance. Acts 1:14, Acts 9:10, Acts 10:9, Acts 10:2, Acts 12:5
Power from on High was Known and Experienced!
The key word for the 1st century church was power, Holy Spirit Power! They relied not on the wisdom of the world to preach Jesus, nor to withstand persecution, or to witness, but the power of the Holy Spirit. We usually only think of miracles as synonymous with power, but power was needed for them to be a witness of Jesus and to preach. In our age we know of the pharmaceutical power, the military power, the money power we will have to know again the power that is from on high so that we can be witnesses of Jesus.
Jesus was Preached Boldly
The first sermon preached was about the crucified Christ, Him resurrected and now Lord and Savior. The reason they were detained and beaten was for preaching in His name. They were warned not to do it, but do it was their only option, because there is only one name under heaven by which men can be saved. Paul was commissioned to preach the depths of the riches of Christ Jesus. The message preached to the holders of competing worldviews was Jesus, Him crucified and now alive! There is much to say about the world, its condition, social inequalities and injustices and the sort, but Jesus must be proclaimed, He must be the Message above messages. Acts 3:26
They bore their Cross
Peter stood up before men who 50 days before crucified Jesus, to preach the same Jesus to them now as Lord and Savior. Knowing very well what they were capable of, he preached. Stephen, the first martyr, preached his first and only sermon recorded before being stoned on the spot!. Peter and John were slapped around, given the back hand and sent off with a stern warning never to preach in Jesus’ name again (Acts 4:18). Saul went from being chief persecutor of the saints to Paul the suffering saint. Suffering for Jesus’ sake was readily accepted.
I think the book of Acts has a lot to say for a Christianity that has competition and even persecution. If the bible is our basic instructions before leaving Earth, the book of Acts could very well be our blue print for a thriving Christianity in the midst of other religions and even persecution.
What are your thoughts on Christianity today? It’s current position in society? Do you think it will thrive and flourish? If so, how?
- What is your Christianity Worth? (klarionkall.wordpress.com)
- Wearing the Cross or Preaching the Cross? (xercised.wordpress.com)
Filed in: Life Following Jesus