Thursday, March 13, 2008

Moving Forward

It is an interesting time indeed. The quest for the authentic Christian life often leads people down the road of history in hopes of discovering how one ought to live. Like an onion, they begin to peel away the many layers of religiosity and Christendom, only to look into their hands and find they are empty. In light of this, I cannot help but visualize what the church Christ came for is intended to look like. Aware of 20 centuries of missions history, the growth of the first century church continues to be an enigma to me. In the early church period, people were committed to the cause of Christ at the risk of martyrdom, using all avenues available to see the Gospel of Christ advance. Orthodoxy and orthopraxy were central to early missions. Samuel Escobar comments on the early church "Conversion to Christ brought a Christian experience that included belief in the gospel of Christ, who was confessed as Savior and Lord by His atoning death in the cross and resurrection; a change of behavior in order to live a life worthy of the gospel, patterned on Jesus' example; and belonging to the body of Christ, the new humanity God was creating in his church." In the centuries before Constantine, the expansion of Christianity took place because of the hundreds and thousands of testimonies of peoples lives changed by the power of Christ. However, beyond the 3rd century, maybe earlier, the spread of Christianity succeeded by other means. Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in the year 313, inaugurating a period in which the church was tolerated within a framework of religious freedom. In other words, she lost her reason to fight to survive in a certain sense. In 381 the Edict of Thessalonica established Christianity as the state religion. In crept Christendom.

Over time we see her being the catalyst of the political, social and cultural fabric in the west. Additionally, she brought with her the many ideas of Christendom. She spread across Europe by forcing herself upon the masses. Now in Western America the church is in a somewhat similar state. For example, there isn’t the resistance to the church like there was in the first century. People’s lives are not threatened due to religious orientation in the west as they were in past.

Today, the spread of Christianity is now measured by other means. Now, some schools of church growth, for example, regard mission as a manageable task that could be completed by a certain date, using appropriate technology and following business principles of management by objectives. When realizing the traditional way of doing missions, I realize to what degree it has become just a human enterprise. It saddens me to think of how far we are from the first century, not just in years but in mission. Nevertheless, the sadness quickly turns into a deep hunger and passion for Christ to move on humanity as He once did. Convicting us all of what He did and changing our response from apathy to action as we share our testimonies in power and love to humanity. Outside our doorsteps lies a world in wait of our stories. The powerful story of Christ and what He did to us may be the most powerful weapon we have for a skeptical postmodern world. The skepticism we face is nothing the first century church didn’t experience. Our fears and doubts are not our own either. As we step into the world I pray we all understand our mission is the same as it was 2000 years ago. To live a life believing the Gospel, compelling us to share the greatest story ever told about a Man who lived among us, relating to us, transforming us and allowing us to share in a Kingdom with a status we don’t deserve.

1 comment:

Reverend GLO said...

Dude...I need your phone number. My cell phone died and I lost all my numbers...