In a world where to be offended is the norm, the Bible still speaks with a bold, uncanny ability to offend us, and yet comfort us. It’s like this Spirit-inspired, sharper than a double-edged sword Word isn’t afraid to tell us we are wrong in how we live. Yet it is concerned with correcting us so that we may be conformed to Jesus.
One such place to find great offense is the way the early church lived, moved, and had their being. These heads-on-fire, Spirit-soaked, resurrection-preaching folk knew a thing or two about being the church because they had been with Jesus, the cornerstone of the church.
If you look with me at Acts 2:45 we see something that undoubtedly displayed the type of love Jesus was about. Yet, it also displayed the type of economy those in the fold of grace would exhibit. An economy not of self, but of others. An economy of foolishness in the eyes of the world, yet normal life in the way of Christ.
Those folks were selling everything they had and giving those proceeds to those in need. They were selling, not to make extra money for that TJ Maxx or Target run, but to give it away. They were freely giving to others. Sounds like something Jesus said, right? See Matthew 10:8.
The economy of the Kingdom is not one of capitalism, opinions, and what leads to financial security. The economy of the Kingdom is others-oriented and it is this that can be quite so offensive.
The marks of the church are many. They preached relentlessly that the carpenter from Nazareth, who was crucified, dead, and buried was now alive. Yet, another mark is that the church had a holy habit of loving others, in fact we see a surge of putting the needs of others before we see people living by their own opinions.
I wonder how we, as the church in 2021AD, compare to the church of 34AD? Are we freely giving? Do we put others’ health before our own convenience? Do we preach Christ crucified or do we preach Christ gimme?
The Bible is offensive because it calls us out in our wayward ways. Yet, the Bible is comforting because it shows us The Way away from our wayward ways. We see life is best lived when we allow the holy love of God to manifest itself by loving others around us.
The call of Christ is that we would die to self. Baptism is not merely being born again, it is a new birth. A birth that leads to new life, a life of being conformed to Christ, in the Spirit. This, my friends, is the way of the early church, a born again people, living out salvation, adamantly preaching Christ crucified and loving people in their community, even if it meant selling all they had.
In the year 2021, I’m not praying for something new. I’m praying that God would, “do it again” as He did in the early church. I’m praying the church would reclaim our heritage of others before self and the Gospel above all else, as we live in holy love for each other.
But first, my fellow brothers and sisters, as the church in 2021 we must release the offense, take up our cross, and follow Jesus as we are led by the Spirit.
With offense behind us, the Word in us, and the Spirit empowering us, let’s ask God to, “Do it again, Lord!”
Luke is Pastor of Discipleship to the community of saints, in Christ, at Nashville UMC