One of the great miracles of the early church is the story of how this little fellowship of fishermen, household slaves and tax collectors evolved into a force that supplanted the pagan culture of the world’s greatest empire. “We have filled all you have”, said the great Tertullian in the third century, “your cities, islands, forts, towns, assembly halls, military camps, town councils, the palace, the senate, and the forum. We have left you nothing but the temples.” Armed with grace and truth, this was a church that out-loved, out-thought, and out-died their Roman neighbors. It was a church with a vision for a better world, and a blueprint for a new kind of Kingdom.
Perhaps we could learn something from them. The modern western church by contrast has largely exchanged grace for judgement, martyrdom for materialism, and truth for education. When the Son stepped into His role as Messiah he introduced something new into the mix of life passed down through the Jewish scriptures. To the ancient injunction of Deuteronomy 6:4, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength”, he added “and with all of your mind“. (Mark 12:30) Here, I believe, is one of the places where the contemporary church parts company with early believers: we have abandoned the Christian mind, leaving the heavy lifting of how we ought to live to the academics and even, (God forbid), to the government.
One of the towering Truths of the kingdom is that the King himself IS Truth. The God who created all things, and holds all things together, (Colossians 1:15-17), is the same God who shares His mind with his people. (1 Corinthians 2:16). The early church knew that they carried within them the One “in whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”. This was the well of wisdom, the engine of innovation, and the fountainhead of reformation in the early centuries of the Christian church. Kingdom disciples honor this gift and look to the Lord for fresh insight, ideas and inspiration.
On a personal note, I’ve just finished teaching a delightful group of musician/disciples here in YWAM Denver. We had many moments of laughter and tears as God unfolded the beauty of His kingdom as the hope for our broken world. I live for these moments and find myself feeling profoundly grateful that God allows me to do what I love.