Family Ties.

If you read about the early church in the Book of Acts, you will see a drastic difference between today’s Christianity and the church described in the Book of Acts. Extraordinary events today were ordinary for first century Christians: healing, dead being raised to life, hundreds coming to Christ every day, miracle after miracle after miracle. So I dug into the Book of Acts to answer this question, “What did the early Church do that Christians today are not doing?” This post is a part of a series of posts that aim to answer this question.

As I read through the book of Acts there was a huge theme that kept coming up – FAMILY. I didn’t recognize this pattern until chapter 21, so that’s why this list of scriptures is not comprehensive.

There were many people traveling and spreading Christianity in the first century church – and they were all treated like family. When Paul is writing to churches, he often says things like, “I long to be with you . . .” The church viewed themselves as family.

I think this is one thing that’s challenging the American church today – we aren’t a family. Take Galatians 6:2 for example, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” What does it mean to carry each other’s burden?

About a year ago I had a friend that came to me and confessed to me that he was struggling with a sexual addiction. All it took was a girl to wink at him and he would have her in bed by the end of the day, sometimes within the hour. He was a Christian, but he was struggling. He came to me because he wanted to be healed and he trusted me. I prayed for him. A few days later he called me up and explained that he had sex with another girl again. I couldn’t believe that he was so far into sin and did it again! I couldn’t believe he was such a lousy human being – that’s really what I was thinking. His situation made me very uncomfortable and I began avoiding his phone calls and text messages until he stopped calling and leaving messages.

When I read Galatians 6:1-2 last month I felt great conviction from my actions a year earlier. I didn’t treat this brother like a brother – I treated him like an enemy simply because the nature of his sin made me uncomfortable. That’s my problem, not his. I wanted Christianity to be nice, clean, orderly, and easy. He was making it messy. In reality my friend had a healthier perspective of Christianity than I did – Christianity should be filled with messy poop, because poop is a sign of life!

If the American church really grasped this idea of our spiritual family ties, I think we would see more people openly confessing their sins. We would have a much healthier Christianity — we would be carrying each other’s burden.

Can I give you the same challenge I’m giving myself? It has two parts. First, be accepting of a Christian who’s confessing their sins to you. Remember they’re confessing because James 5:16 says “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you can be healed.” Secondly, don’t disobey the Bible – find people you can confess your sins to that will pray for you. And then do it!

**Cue Exit music: Sister Sledge doing “We Are Family”**

9 Replies to “Family Ties.”

  1. Your thoughts of how we are different now vs. the first century…what has changed? Let’s see…for one thing, we don’t allow God in our schools, in the courtyard…basically out in public. Too offensive. We don’t allow God anywhere…then we complain because he’s not there when we need him. Hmmm. The old church listened to the word. Even the Gentiles listened and accepted Christ. We don’t listen anymore. Yeah, we hear…but we don’t listen.

    Here’s a side-note: What was it about the Gentiles that was looked down upon by the jews? Were they a different race? Poor? Or just a sinful crowd? Why would it be OK to avoid them at first, and not spread the word to their area? They also were open to the word, once it was taught to them.

  2. Penny:
    1) You’re right on in this first paragraph. I will write on those things later.

    2) The Jews were God’s chosen people. Anybody that wasn’t a Jew was a Gentile (any different race), and therefore NOT God’s chosen people. When Jesus died for our sins, he died for the sins of ALL, including Gentiles. That’s why Romans says that God does not have favoritism – there is no slave nor free, Jew or Gentile … He died for ALL.

    But since the Jews had been following God (on and off) directly since Abraham and they had been anticipating the arrival of the Messiah for centuries, it would only make sense to FIRST go to the Jews and say, “Hey, the Messiah … you know… the Messiah we’ve been waiting for… well he finally has come. He was Jesus and this is what happened…” But when most Jews rejected the Messiah, they continued on to preach to the Gentiles as well.

    Not all Jews looked down on the Gentiles. For those who did, it was more of a pride thing I think. Like, “WE are the Jewish… God’s chosen. You are not.” Peter even had that view for quite some time until Paul straightened him out and God gave him a vision.

  3. When they spoke of healing, they often referred to a person as being, say, blind and deaf because they were demon possessed. They drove out the demons, and they were healed. The crazy man that ran around naked was demon possessed. The woman that predicted the future was demon possessed. Another person that could predict the future had God’s gift of prophesy. How did they know what was going on? Do we have demon possession today like they had then? What exactly would the definition of that be? I’m sure it was not as described in the horror movies.

  4. @ Penny. Great Questions.

    “How did they know what was going on?”
    Well, I think firstly, they saw Jesus do it first-hand when he was on the earth, and Jesus told the disciples that they had the same power to do it (through Him, of course). So Jesus told them all about it, and word spread from there. This is actually one of the main points I will be making in a future post on the Book of Acts Church – they KNEW Jesus personally!

    “Do we have demon possession today like they had it then?”
    Yes, Absolutely! I have a friend that spent three months in African on missions, and he told me stories about people running around naked, tearing clothes off… chasing them on motorcycles… and becoming violent while they were doing a VBS. At one point they all fled for their lives from the demon possessed people. But if people were like that in America, we’d stick them in an Asylum – where they do Satan no good at all. So in America, it would be in the demon’s best interest to possess people in a more subtle manner that would then effect more people. Things like drug use and self mutilation could certainly be a result of demonic activity, but keeps a person out in public still. (I’m not saying everyone that does drugs or cuts themselves is possessed, but I am saying that it could definitely be a factor).

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