For Christ's Sake!

“And every one that has forsaken houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for My name’s sake shall receive a hundredfold and shall inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:29 (Jubilee Bible 2000)

It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like for the first century Christians when we live in a 21st Century Western Society. They were put into situations where they lost everything for the sake of following Jesus. Paul notes that even a husband or wife may not be someone they keep in their lives if it means compromising their faith. Today we intermarry with unbelievers, we miss whether people are actually born again or if they just make the right sounds. It’s hard to spot because of how the World has learned to imitate the language of the Church. Actually, it’s more that the church (note – small “c”) talks a language so filled with the World as to be impossible to separate them, or jargon so hard to understand that it drives away everyone not raised in the church – and to complicate matters, not all churches use the same jargon.

Jesus was a simple man with a simple message. He spoke in a simple manner to the ordinary people and they followed Him in droves. After the resurrection and ascension the disciples were endowed with the Holy Spirit. That resulted in Power being released. 5000 added by Peter’s first sermon. But then the believers did something incredible:

Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.” (Acts 4:32-35)

For the sake of the Gospel, Jesus’s sake, they willingly gave up their posessions so all the members could be fed, clothed, housed. All who were landowners, not some. Later, when 2 followers pretend to give up the full price when really holding back, they were struck down and died when confronted with the Truth.

The key to the early Church was in Acts 4:32. They were of one heart and one soul. Unified in a way that the denominations can’t match within themselves, never mind collectively. Unity is the central theme of the Gospel. Unity between God and Man, unity between believers. A new union where restoration of relationship is not only possible, but, from what we see in the early chapters of Acts, was spontaneous and crossed boundaries of class and status. Slaves and owners shared as brothers and sisters and the relationships were built as equals in Christ.

We need to get back to the basics of that Spirit led life. The World has fallen to Satan long ago, but restoration has been given. As far as we know, at no point in history have so many individuals lived on this small blue planet as do now. And we’re more divided than ever.

Denis Leary did a sketch a while ago where he suggested Christ didn’t return because of the number of people wearing crosses, likening it to wishing JFK’s widow well while wearing a pin replica of Lee-Harvey Owsald’s rifle. Whilst he may have been trying to shock and may even been trying to be blasphemous in his act, it made me think about what the Cross actually means, what it stands for in my Faith, and the mess we make of trying to show Christ to the World. That which should be uniting us drives us apart because of the ludicrous interpretations and meanings spun into the simple teachings of Jesus intended to draw us to Him.

We don’t give ourselves the chance to be united by Christ because of the smokescreen blown across our minds by the Enemy. His plan to divide and conquer has proven to be disturbingly effective for 2000 years. We have lost the simplicity of the message of Christ and with it we have lost the unity that gave the first century Christians their passion and power.

So for our sake, we need to do reclaim the simplicity of the message for Christ’s sake!

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