Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Way: Living Radical Faith

Let me ask you some simple questions. Do the members of your church live just like the 1st century disciples of Yeshua? Do they share their wealth and blessings in common? (Acts 2:44, 4:34-35) Do they really care for orphans and widows? Are the members truly in the world, but not of the world? (James 1:27) Do they really believe the same things, and are of the same mind and judgment? Do they honestly avoid all divisions among them? (1 Corinthians 1:10)

I do not think it will come as a surprise that many churches today bear absolutely no resemblance to the early church. Theirs was a unique worldview- a counter-culture all their own. There was never any notion that they had to become more like the surrounding cultures in dress, music style, etc. in order to reach the lost with the Good News. They understood the necessity of separation from all the things today's churches seem to want to emulate. The early disciples understood that they lived in a fallen world, filled with oppression- physical, mental, political, social, and spiritual.Why would anyone in their right mind try to emulate the entertainments, dress, etc. of the diseased world from which they sprang? 

Throughout history there have been those rebels, who sought to overthrow the status quo; to end poverty, stop genocide, make people "equal", end political corruption, bring an end to war, and save the environment from endless pollution of air, land and water. These radicals formed movements like the Communist Party, Cultural Marxism, Anarchy, Social Justice, and a whole host of other equally revolutionary movements. Without a single exception, every one of these movements failed miserably. While they claimed to address those problems, they failed to address the very core of each issue, which is the human condition. Humanity is fallen, depraved, and unable to form a movement that can adequately address those issues. Everything we form is doomed to failure at some level. 

Not so, however, with the movement Yeshua started. 

The most radical words spoken in the New Testament are, "Come, follow me", Yeshua said, "and I will make you fishers of men." (Mark 1:17) These fishermen, who would have been rejected by any rabbi they approached, asking to be disciples, were instead invited to be disciples of God incarnate. The radical nature of such discipleship was not lost on the 1st century Jew, nor should it be lost on us today. It would cost them everything.

Discipleship to Yeshua brings with it even more radical promises. Promises like, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:25-30) These promises cut to the very heart of the human condition, the very reason so many turn to man-made movements in an attempt to end that constant nagging pain and emptiness inside. And the 1st century disciples heard and understood. They understood so much that they lived His movement just as radically as Yeshua taught.

"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved."- Acts 2:42-47

This movement was called The Way. Not a way, or one of the ways, but THE Way- a bold title of exclusive import. Yet another radical statement. Sadly, many Christians today just view their faith as one of the ways humanity can approach God. They are afraid to even suggest that one can only find peace and communion with God through Yeshua. They have lost the radical edge of the original disciples.

And all of the characteristics we find describe in Acts flesh out just how radical this movement was, which brings me to a serious question. How radical are we in expressing our faith? How dedicated and "sold out" to God are we? Are we willing to do what these first disciples did? Are we willing to truly be transformed into the image of the Messiah? Or do we simply want the comfort that faith can bring, without the revolutionary lifestyle that it actually demands? And finally, if the 1st century disciples could live out such a radical faith at a time when it literally cost them their lives, and not just their reputation with co-workers, or friends, then why can't we?

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