Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Do We Really Want This?

It is becoming apparent to me that I have a skewed sense of time.  I regularly begin sentences with, “recently,” or, “the other day,” and then I stop to think about how much time has passed.  Often, it is months or even years.  So, I was going to start this post by claiming, “In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in early Church practices,” but then it occurred to me that I might be writing about something that is actually more than a decade old.  That’s OK, but it probably needs to be put into perspective.  With that in mind…

Many, many years ago (ten or more), a lot of people were talking about the importance of returning to the roots of the early church.  I loved those discussions.  I entered into those discussions.  And, because I think talk is cheap if not followed by actions; I worked hard to actually apply some of the principles.  This passage from Acts is a good jumping off point: 

Acts 2:42-47, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (NIV).

However, there is something that deeply disturbs me.  It’s the idea that living in community of this magnification sounds excellent on paper, but not too many people want to commit to it in real life.  In fact, when a group of people does engage in such communal living, they are most likely found to be a dangerous cult of some sort!  So, what do we do with this?

Radical hospitality is inconvenient.  There.  I said it.  It’s not all that difficult to commit to teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer for one hour every week, although even this is, admittedly, an inconvenience to the regularly scheduled lives of so many.

And therein lies the problem…  This was never about our regularly scheduled lives…

When I think about commonality, I can’t help but consider the tension of our current political climate and the pushing and shoving and grasping for more and more that can lead to statements about what other human beings do (or more frequently, do not) deserve—to statements about caring for ourselves and “our own,” even though all of humanity is our own.  It is incredibly easy to get upset over people who seem selfish.  But who of us has actually sold everything in order to meet the needs of everyone?  Confession: I have not.  And yet, I think this might be the easier predicament found in these verses, because the next part is more relational than most anyone is comfortable with…

The early church met together daily…  (Oh, wow… even if I’m willing to give you all my possessions; I might think twice about giving you all my time).

They broke bread together in their homes … (Oh, wow… even if I’m willing to give you all my possessions and a lot of my time; I might think twice about allowing you to invade my personal space).

And they liked it!  And more and more people came!

Now, I actually have lived into the whole “my door is always open, come eat in my kitchen… and living room… and I’ll even leave a couple of bags of groceries for you on my porch, just in case I’m legitimately not available” mode of doing life, and I want to be exceptionally real: It’s not easy!  Also (still being real here), it may not be sustainable, long-term, without some help.  But there is something spiritual that happens over bread broken together on a very regular basis.  And the people do come… sometimes in droves…

Maybe we’re doing it wrong…


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