Saturday, December 15, 2007

Things Have Changed

The more things change the more they should have stayed the same.

The early church only knew they needed to be with each other. They had times of great peace and acceptance and other times of persecution. When persecution happened it was intense but usually limited to a small area. In those times believers simply packed up and went elsewhere always carrying within them their love for God and others.

There practices were simple. They got together as often as possible. They had meals celebrating their saviour and their love for each other. Today we call that a communion service. They wouldn’t understand why we prefer our smart new way of isolating people in a large room and dispensing thimbles and wafers as a means of expressing love for one another.

They met regularly with no need to look to someone to lead them. Each one could bring a psalm or hymn or a word of encouragement. They loved Jesus’ words that instructed them to NOT be like the Gentiles,

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.

43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.

45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:42-45 (NIV)

Two thousand years later people are desperately wanting someone to do things for them. When Christians get together they rarely think that they should bring anything other than a listening ear. They are happy with someone having authority over them and in fact insist that it is necessary.

Here is one woman’s observation about why we desire to have the Gentile’s form of authority over us. She calls it covering.

“Do you think Adam and Eve’s need for physical covering is the same need the people of Israel experienced in their desire for Moses as mediator between them and God? The people of Israel, full of sin, thus shame, felt they needed something (or someone) between them and God. Is it this shame, which we religiously call a “covering” that keeps us from being in true relationship with a God we don’t yet understand? I had never considered that in Adam & Eve’s covering, they were inhibiting a transparent relationship with God and each other. In which case, is it possible that a jargon like, “you need to be under a spiritual covering” is nothing more than a manipulative statement meant to scare us into believing God is full of wrath and we are sinful, so stay covered! Is a “covering” not a place of safety after all, but a place of hiding and in reality- bondage? Does our current Christian culture’s concept of “covering” (nice alliteration, huh?), parallel Israel in their fear and shame? Could it be God desires for us to throw off our “covering” and begin real relationship?”

Church is now seen as systems and the goal of leadership is to make the best system possible. We’re far more advanced than they were in Paul’s day.

The early church didn’t understand the need for buildings and special holy men. They thought they were equals, brothers and sisters. Life was hard but Christianity was simple. Laugh together, cry together and know the goodness of God was their simplistic view of Christianity.

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