1st Century Christianity in a 21st Century World
Most of you are well aware that the church Jesus established (cf. Matt. 16:18) began in the early first century. The church was strong, and it was growing in faith and in number. The first century was a time well known for its strong opposition against Jesus and His followers. Christians and their families dealt with severe persecution often ending in death or extreme suffering. Yet, if you were to read the scriptures, one would readily observe the joy and love that was shared among brethren despite these circumstances. As 2018 comes to a rapid end, we’ve come a long way from what life was like during the times of Jesus. We have advanced in technology, infrastructure, education, medicine and pretty much everything pertinent to the growth of society. I’m afraid, however, that Christianity has also evolved and changed like everything else. The argument put forth by many corresponds closely to this: “Since culture has improved, what’s stopping us from improving something like 1stcentury Christianity.”
People look at the phrase 1stCentury and immediately the response is that it’s old, outdated, lacking and inadequate with “the times.” Whatever happened to the phrase: “Don’t fix what is not broken.”Man’s pride has become his own worst enemy causing his downfall time and time again. Jesus explicitly states at the end of Matthew’s gospel He has ALL the authority in Heaven and on earth (cf. Matt. 28:18). Whatever Jesus says, that we must do. Either we do it and experience the benefits or we reject it and reap the consequences. The all sovereign, all powerful God, having all authority is capable of giving us a perfect pattern that needs no improvement nor correction. God does not make mistakes! Who are we to say otherwise? But we still do, don’t we?
You see, the world doesn’t revolve around man. That’s a whole different idea than the world revolving to keep man alive (which is what actually what happens). I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say it’s the 21st century and because it’s the 21st century that somehow gives us the power to do whatever we want. I will admit, that when the majority of the world around us does whatever they want, it sure makes it a lot easier for us to do whatever we want. But friends, don’t be foolish to think that we can do what we please with impunity. Paul encountered such a problem with the Galatians. In fact, some started to introduce a different pattern than what Jesus had laid out and many were starting to adhere to it (cf. Gal. 1:6-9). Paul, rather adamant, ensured the Galatians that God’s pattern has not changed nor, will it ever change! There is no improvement or correction needed. It is complete, it is perfect, and it can make man whole again. Man cannot do this but only God can.
So, does this mean we cannot be 1st century Christians in the 21st century because everything has changed? I will tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. God is so big and powerful that He knew His pattern for salvation would have the same effects today that it did back then. No amount of technology, infrastructure, education, money etc. will change the fact that the gospel will and always remain the same. While everything around us may change and evolve, God’s word will remain the same. Our job as Christians is to ensure we are practicing what our Lord established in the 1stcentury. No watered down, soft, self-righteous, self-pleasing gospel will ever be able to replace what Jesus Christ lived, died and rose for. Let’s remind people that what Jesus built is still alive today and it still has the ability to change lives like it did 2000 years ago. Let’s be diligent to prove ourselves 1st century Christians in a 21st century world.