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”**