Lately, we have been reading some excellent books discussing the history of the religion we call “Christianity”, thanks to a Christian publishing company that lived out their talk. They gifted us with four books (including two preferred titles!) in answer to a simple request for a discount on possible damaged books. Instead of being bound by the world’s money system (the religion of our times), Scroll Publishing chose to share some of their possessions.
The author of the books we requested, David Bercot, has studied the writings, beliefs and lifestyles of the followers of Jesus in the second century A.D. His argument is that the Christian focus has been changed from lifestyle (following in the footsteps of Jesus’ life) to theology (having knowledge and “belief” in Jesus). This may seem like a harmless shift of understanding to you, but Bercot shows just how harmful this new focus is by presenting a comparison of the influence of early Christianity to the actions of the “Church” since the fourth century.
For example, how did “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” turn into “defend your country and kill anyone in your way, in Jesus’ name”?
To continue my this point, I will pose this question:
What would happen if people returned to the simple “child-like” understanding of Jesus’ teachings and message that the first followers had?
Acts chapters 2 and 4 paint a basic picture of what Jesus’ teachings were influencing his listeners to do after his departure from Earth:
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
In other words, they took Jesus seriously when he said, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. “, instead of coming up with all kinds of reasons for why he “didn’t mean it that way”. Even as you’re reading this, I am sure that you automatically come up with mental arguments to defend a Christian life that doesn’t imitate Jesus. As Bercot says in his book, “Will The Theologians Please Sit Down”, we have all been brainwashed by the numerous interpretations and commentaries that we grew up feeding on. I was thoroughly challenged by several points that Bercot drew out of the early Christians’ lifestyle and writings. And I have been trying to follow Jesus more sincerely than what I learned in church for several years!
Thankfully, Jesus gave us an easy solution to overcoming the brainwashing of the Church/State “hybrid”. He said that if we were like little children (trusting in the simplicity of his teaching and the providence of his Father) and “born again”, we would see his Kingdom.
Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven!