Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Following Christ: Before it was Cool

It's so easy to forget that people other than the disciples followed Jesus around too. Like, a LOT of people. We get this image engrained into our minds of him and the apostles, and only the apostles that makes it hard to picture all of the other people who were Christ followers at the time. there were tons of people who heard his teachings and were like, "You know what, I believe this guy." then they just picked up and left. they left their homes, their jobs, a lot of them probably even left their families. All to follow this radical man, who many had deemed a lunatic. Doesn't that change the picture? Try to imagine it this way:
         Everywhere Jesus went a giant crowd followed. When he stopped to rest on the road, tents
         popped up all around. If he stopped in a city, a large party of people stopped too. They filled up
         the inns, they stayed in fellow Christian homes in the city. All of those people had to eat
         something. Where do you think that came from? I don't know.

Can you imagine doing that today?

Even then, the Roman people spread rumors and talked about Christians as a cult, as people who hated humanity. Christ's followers were persecuted, they were used as examples, being thrown in jail*, subjected to torture, and even murdered. On top of that, there were other guys running around claiming that they were the Chosen One, that they were the Messiah, not Jesus. So besides having to live a life of persecution and oppression, how did they know they were following the right guy? What was it that made him so obviously different to these people, that they believed Jesus was the real deal and no one else?

Also, lets keep in mind that the New Covenant had not yet been formed. That Christ hadn't died for the sins of man. These people did not have any proof that the Lord's grace was coming, that He was going to save them from sin. They must have been scared out of their minds at times.  - What faith, that they would follow Jesus anyway.

When I think about what these people had to go through, I am so thankful that we have it so easy today. There is no threat (at least currently in the US) that I will be killed for sticking to my faith. Christians can meet out in the open, we can worship God in front of the whole world. And that, my friends, is an amazing thing.

It makes me sad to see Christ-followers now who don't reach out, who have their church, and their denomination, and they don't care about anything else. WE ARE ONE BODY. It is our job to tell the world about our savior! We don't need to get caught up in petty arguments or create division among our brothers and sisters in Christ. Christians should be out there, searching for the lost, leading them to knowledge and faith in Jesus.

I want to say thank you to the first church, the original church. For taking the steps that they did, for enduring the pain and the suffering that they did, so that we could be where we are today.

All of this came to mind because I'm trying to read through Acts again, to really understand what the first church was like. I want to know what made it so strong, and to apply those things to my own walk with Christ.

If anyone wants to start this study with me, I just finished Chapter 1. I will be reading a chapter a day for the rest of April.  (I prefer the language of the New King James Version, but you can check out others and see if there is a different one you prefer.)

I would definitely be interested in hearing any thought that you have on this subject, or if you want to read through with me we can discuss things as they come up.

*Jail in the Roman empire was not like it is today. If you want to eat, you had to have someone who was willing to make and bring you all of your meals. There were no beds, no opportunities to bathe, no health care. If something happened or you got sick, that was just too bad - deal with it yourself.