Our pastor has been doing a series on the book of Acts, which has really hit a spiritual nerve in me.
Reflecting on the early church, it is easy to see that something is amiss in the church today.
These days, we come to church to sit in the pews and put in our time. Even if it’s more than that–even if we’re there to worship and learn and grow in faith–it’s still mostly about us. We don’t seem to view the church as something that is supposed to be active and directed outward toward the community and the world.
I think we tend to look at church as an end unto itself: we go in order to grow and mature spiritually, and to worship God, all of which are wonderful things. But if it ends there, we’re missing the point. The church in Acts is the perfect example (which is, of course, why it’s described so thoroughly in the Bible). The apostles’ and early church members’ main purpose was to take Christ out to the world, to their communities and beyond. The spiritual growth and the worship of the Lord were steps on that path, not the destination.
It’s a bit like going to the gym. Some people go to the gym to get a gym body. They never do anything physical besides working out at the gym. They wind up with strong, firm muscles, but they don’t actually use those muscles for anything other than lifting dumbbells and running longer and harder on the treadmill. Contrast that with athletes, who go to the gym to build up their muscles in order to actually do something with them–play sports, run marathons, etc.
So, there’s the question: what are we doing it for? What are we planning to do with all that spiritual muscle once we’ve built it up? Are we just going to use it to impress our fellow church members by answering deep questions in Bible Study? Or are we going to go out into the world, taking risks, reaching people with the extremely Good News, serving the poor, the lonely, and the fatherless?