There was a brief time in history when Christians didn’t offend society. It seems that the early days of the very first church were so exactly like Jesus said church should be that everybody, in or out, got it and dug it. My friend Sean Tucker, in his excellent account of moving away from institutionalized religion, “Unlearning”, points to something I hadn’t noticed before in the history of that early church. The book known as “Acts” in the Bible mentions that this early church “enjoyed the favour of all the people”. These early Jesus-followers (there was no such thing as ‘Christianity’ yet) did what they said they would do, and society let them. They met together, shared their stuff, kept their word, helped others, formed a warm beautiful community of peaceful, useful people, and even others who didn’t share their specific religious beliefs liked them.
So what happened?
2000-plus years later, Christians and church-goers are ridiculed and, in loftier circles, reviled. And to Christianity’s great shame, this ‘loss of favour’ of ‘all the people’ is well-deserved. There are 101 reasons for that, and 1001 books written to refute or bolster that argument. This blog isn’t the place for that (knee-jerk reactionary evangelicals: take a deep breath, relax, move away from the computer, breathe… ok, calm? Wipe the foam from your mouth and read on.) Suffice it to say: church has gone wrong. Christians have turned modern Christianity into little more than a cult. How do those of us who still believe that of all the people who ever drew breath, Jesus of Nazareth had the best ideas, live out our beliefs in such a way as to regain that valuable ‘favour of all the people’? How do you make Bill Maher or Richard Dawkins raise an approving, admiring eyebrow when you say, “I think Jesus was right”?
PS. Please check out Sean Tucker's book "Unlearning". You can find him at www.unlearning.co.za as well as on Facebook, and he writes a great blog as well.