The Early Church Had a Great Reputation. What Happened?
In the Bible, Dr. Luke notes that the gathering of folks who follow Jesus (aka, the church) enjoy the goodwill of all the people. In another place he records that all the people have a high regard for the church. They had a great reputation. Perhaps that’s why they grow from a handful of people to several thousands in just a few months.
Imagine that. Everyone holding the church in high regard and with goodwill. The result is rapid growth.
If only that were the case today. Yes, some people on the outside respect the church, but society as a whole, holds a much different view. They hate us and criticize us. They call us hypocrites and view us as filled with hate and always arguing. In large part, they’re right.
What happened? What went wrong over the past two thousand years? Here are four ideas to consider:
They Take Care of Their Own
The early church shares what they have with one another, and no one has any needs. (Notice the focus is on meeting needs, not fulfilling wants.)
They Don’t Ask For Money
The early church isn’t constantly asking for money and doesn’t take weekly offerings. The few times they do take a collection, it is to give away to those outside their community.
They Help Others
The apostles go around healing people.
They Rely on the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit plays a leading role. He is prominent, in the book of Acts, leading the church and empowering its members.
Today, the church does a poor job of caring for its own, is always taking offerings, forgets to help others, and relies on its own abilities instead of God.
That’s what happened. It’s time to change.
[Read more about this in Peter’s upcoming book, Jesus’s Broken Church.]
Read more about the book of Acts in Dear Theophilus, Acts: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.