Reading the book of Acts excites me about the Church or at least the True identity of the Church. Yet I feel like so many do not come close to understanding the real intention of the Church. I barely can grasp the true meaning. The theme that seems to show in the beginning of Acts is community, unity, and new believers being added to the Body. Anyone can just gather together. What set this group apart is that they were joined together and worshipped Jesus Christ knowing fully and believing in their hearts that he was [and is] their true Messiah. They believed fully in the Holy Spirit and its incredible and supernatural power. They believed and lived out the gifts of the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 12-14]- the Spirit promised by Jesus, being evident in their lives thus producing spiritual fruit [Galatians 5:23] in their own lives and their body of believers. It goes one step further. Their belief did not just stay in their fellowship during times they would be gathered together. It was lived out. The idea of the Church, in its core, is so vastly different than how we treat it. We treat Church as something to go to and not something to be. We treat it as something that remains stuck inside a wall, yet the moment one leaves the building they can be whoever they want. The Church of Acts, the beginnings of it all, was not a movement, not a building, not a catchy idea to go along with, but a group of individuals that were deeply changed by a God who loved them not because of anything they had or could ever do, but because of a deeper LOVE that had died for them. Because they were changed, and no longer stuck in their old ways- their sin, shameful, and mediocre lives- they were free to serve Jesus with their lives by bringing that LOVE to others, by living their lives with honor and purity and holiness, and believing that everyone, though completely undeserved, was loved by God greater than themselves.
I feel like today the Church is so set on tolerance that we have forgotten true holiness. We are so consumed with this world and not offending someone or causing disagreement, that so many Churches no longer pursue the Holy Spirit, Christians that are radically living out Godly lives in purity and honor, or a quickly growing body of new believers. We have forgotten what the Church really is because this world does not like the real meaning. It is different. It is radical. It is powerful. To embrace it means change. To embrace it means to live by something out of your own control. And more, it means accepting the TRUTH of Jesus Christ and everything he lived and died for…and rose for. Yes, I do believe there are churches and Christians that are living out this true Acts meaning of the Church without compromise. Yet I see so many Christians today compromising the Word for the World. People justify tolerance and thus compromise what being a believer really means. When we [ yes I include myself in this knowing full well that I am perfectly imperfect and will fail at this] compromise the standards of holiness, purity, and godliness for being accepted by this world…we are becoming acclimated to it and no longer to God’s Word for us. We then are not the Church. We are not living it out. We are not changing. We are not living by the Spirit but instead by ourselves as our own gods, whatever those gods make be in our lives.
Alas, there is hope. I believe, with great expectancy, that my generation, the era of the 20 somethings and younger, will be the ones that will be a catalyst for greater change. I have to believe, with some hope, that regardless of who compromises their lives in order to fit with the World, that God’s goodness and glory can still be found. We bear his image. We live in his creation. I have to believe that the Church will arise…and be. Not in a building. Not in a house. In the everyday, in the everywhere. Acts is the record of the Church forming. But I believe that its end is not here yet. We need His Spirit to move in our lives. We need His Love, purity, holiness, and goodness to be lived out in our lives. I hold to this and do not give up.