I just spent an hour with a few of our Vanguard leaders talking about the future of the Catch. With the world turned upside down right now due to the pandemic, and the church turned outside in due to the lockdown, it’s important that we see ourselves as first century Christians, because, in many ways, we are starting all over again. It’s good that we get back to our foundation anyway, because we had strayed far from it. “Church” was starting to resemble something with no biblical counterpart.
It’s really all about living fresh every day with your faith. It’s not that hard to do. It’s not about going back to school and learning how to say everything in a new and different way. What makes Christians “first century” is pretty much wrapped up in one word: experience.
First century Christians were experiencing Christ, and the reality of that experience spilled over into their relationships with each other, and their relationships with those outside of the body of Christ.
That’s the piece we can carry over from the first century into our lives now — it’s the experience of Christ in our lives. And by our lives, I mean wherever we are in our lives now. It has nothing to do with having your life together or being a good example, or anything that even remotely relates to things like that. It has to do with the real Christ living and moving in our lives regardless of what’s going on. It has to do with our experience of Christ right now, in this moment.
Think about it: that’s all the first century Christians had. They didn’t have seminary degrees; they didn’t attend seminars. They had some teachers teaching them, but that’s no different from what you and I have. What they did have was the living Christ in their lives, and that was a reality that was undeniable. Did they alter their lives in any way? Did they try to be different? No, they merely let Christ into their lives, and let Him out to others. Grace taken in, and grace turned out.
This is the essence of our purpose and place in the world — to let Christ in, and let Him out. And the best way to do that is by simply walking alongside people. As we walk and talk, our experience of Christ becomes someone else’s experience of Christ without even trying. God purely and simply wants us. He wants access to our lives so He can live His life through us, and touch the lives of others through us as we walk together. That’s it. It’s no more complicated than that.
Walking alongside may look a little different with “social distancing,” but there are plenty of tools by which we can accomplish this. We just have to be a little creative.
We’re either experiencing Christ in our lives moment by moment — loving us, forgiving us, comforting us, empowering us — or we are faking something someone called the Christian life. That’s what the first century Christians didn’t have (lucky them). They didn’t have anything to fake. They were it. They were the new thing. It had never been before. They were experiencing Christ in community and in the world. No different from what we can do right now, today. It’s time.