The Forgotten Christianity

Mega-churches. Tiny Churches. Denominations. “Non” Denominations. Emergent churches. Traditional churches.

Conferences, buildings, rituals, dress codes, books, blogs.

Christian Movies. Christian Dating. Christian Music. Christian Jewelry. Christian T-shirts.

It’s like a Christian all-you-can-eat buffet, just waiting to give you a spiritual tummy-ache.

If you would, turn off your Christian radio for just a minute. Stop surfing the web for Christian apparel, put down your latest Christian book, and turn off your Christian TV station. Don’t worry, it will all still be there for you when you’re finished here, if you still want it. I want to invite you to experience an ancient Christianity, nearly forgotten completely by the Western world. Its beauty and life was so contagious that all Christendom has been built upon its foundation. I’m going to ask you to strip away all your modern conceptions of your faith, so you can gaze on the raw beauty of God’s original intentions for us…

It starts with the one we call “Father God” (except we didn’t call Him that yet) and He was filled with longing.
He had an ache in His heart, but not the kind of ache that comes from pain. The kind that comes from having too much joy, too much pleasure, and no one else to share it with. He was totally satisfied in Himself, in communion with Jesus and Holy Spirit, but he was so satisfied that He was desperate to create. If you’ve ever had a feeling inside you that was so big you thought you would explode, it’s kind of like that. He had to share this thing we call love, but to Him it was simply His nature. How could He share something that was simply Him? You can almost hear Holy Spirit whisper in His ear.

“Papa, I have an Idea. Let’s make them like us.” Brilliant. A people made in His image, sharing in His nature, that could share in His goodness. A people who could love. The Almighty was about to become a Father. The Three-in-One would soon have a family.

Man chose to forfeit this blessing by choosing to find goodness through alternate means, but lets look at another Man in a Garden…

Jesus Christ, the God-Man, trembling amidst the olive trees. Wounded to the heart, overwhelmed, sweating blood. He is there for one reason. He has determined to die for the very people who have rejected Him. He is going to provide the way back to true family. His Father still longs for children to love, and He still longs for brothers and sisters. Since the very first day, only a few had ever tasted it, but soon the whole world would have an open invitation once again. The events that followed would soon be called the gospel– the good news that Jesus had made Family possible in a way that no one had ever seen before.

This movement spread like wildfire. It was a movement of love, not hierarchy. Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, were all treated equally. There were fathers like Paul and mothers like Phoebe that helped nurture and raise this new Family that was collectively called “the church.” It was a messy movement, filled with broken, yet beautiful people, just like us. They made huge mistakes, and often fell short of all God had to offer them, but they were genuine. They carried something no one had ever seen. They had fierce love for their God who was actually a Father, their Savior who was actually a brother, and their fellow “Christians” who were now connected by a blood stronger than any family tree. They helped every person they saw, they healed all who were sick, they empowered every person they met. It was spectacular…but it started to fade.

Soon, “religion” began to infect this thriving community. The beauty of community was replaced by the beauty of gold. The freedom of family was replaced by the cold stone of cathedrals. Brothers became rulers, and Fathers became abusers. God’s beautiful family tree drank rivers of blood and oceans of greed.  Its life withered and died; there’s a reason why these times was called the Dark Ages. But a remnant remained.

New fathers arose, taking an axe and fearlessly hacking away everything that did not produce life. We now call these men the Reformers. They started a revolution in the church, that began calling people back to a life sustained by the love that God originally intended. This too was greatly corrupted, and much of what these men did was perverted by weaker men that wanted power more than intimacy. “Reformation” became “Rebellion.” The tragic truth is these men intent on unifying God’s broken family in a culture of freedom and honor could not get along. They let ritual, theology, worship practices and ministry styles divide them. Soon, factions and denominations formed, and the Family fragmented even further.

Many other movements came and went within the church, each one helping and wounding in its own way, until eventually the Church arrived at where it is now. Yet, today a longing is rising to the surface again. The forgotten Christianity of the Apostles is being whispered among this generation. We want something that our Father in Heaven is desperate for. We want the thing our Older Brother died for.

A generation is arising that refuses to be satisfied by “church.”

This Generation wants to be Family.

Denominational walls are being shouted down by a new breed of worshippers. There is a hunger for fathers and mothers who love freely. There’s a pursuit of “religion” that actually promotes relationship instead of paralyzing it. The Church is dreaming of the ancient plan of God that has been percolating in His heart even long before creation. The Happy Father is ready to recieve His children.

This isn’t about a system, or a brand, or slapping a Christian label on yet another area of our lives. It’s about relationship that transcends being “congregants” or “churchgoers.” It’s about realizing that the pastor you are hatefully shouting down for his “wrong theology” is actually your brother. Realizing that its not okay for there to be “black churches” and “white churches.” That it’s not ok for Baptists to say that Charismatics are devil worshippers, or to slander a book another Christian wrote on youtube without even talking to the author. It’s not ok to hold up “God hates Fags” signs or to refuse to be in community with other Christians because they are against gay marriage and you are for it. It’s not ok to assume all “pro-choice” voters are murderers, or that all “pro-life” voters have the right motives. You can’t condemn another Christian for liking music that is not Christian, and you can’t pat yourself on the back for only watching Christian movies. Brownie points for Christian T-shirts don’t count. The same goes for purity rings (yes, I wear one) and cross necklaces. What counts is how you love.

How much of a brother can you say you are to those that disagree with your perspectives?

How much of a sister are you when you won’t talk to the new girl in youth group?

How can you say you are part of the “Family of God” when you secretly think the way you follow God is better than everyone else’s?

Most importantly:

How will you ever love the world if you are so convinced that you are more righteous than them?

I’m a new creation, and in Christ I am righteous, but it’s only because I embraced the identity He purchased for me. I was a wretch without Him. So were you.

I started my own church this year. Just a small group of young people that said “There’s got to be more. Let’s find it.” I’ve been surprised by the simplicity and beauty of what I’m discovering. Structure doesn’t really matter. The songs you choose don’t matter too much either. Christian T-shirts don’t improve things, and purity rings don’t impress anyone. It’s not about all that. Something so much deeper binds us together and keeps us moving forward. Two Saturdays ago, as we were sitting in our softly lit prayer chapel, I looked over my “congregation.” What made the moment so incredible is that the word “congregation” never even crossed my mind. These weren’t my “sheep,” my “flock,” or my “disciples.” These were my dearest brothers, and my closest sisters. For the first time, “Brother” was not just one more religious title that I use when I’m greeting one of my Christian acquaintances. These were not just “Brothers and Sisters in Christ,” they were my family. Broken. Messy. Passionate. Beautiful. In that moment, I knew I had finally found home.

We are a royal priesthood. Royal, blood relatives given the power and authority to change the world. Priesthood, given the job to serve and to love above all else. Since the dawn of time, we were called to the most intimate form of fellowship. One in Christ, One with Christ, one with each other. Total unity that causes total joy. A whole new kingdom.

The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t a structure. It’s not even an ideology.

It’s people.

We must stop ignoring the Kingdom in the name of the King.

The King is after a Family, and your Family is worth everything.


24 thoughts on “The Forgotten Christianity

  1. i’m blessed by reading your posts. and i want my blog’s visitor (even not much.. 🙂 ) be blessed by your posts too.. and i think that this is the kind of church i’m looking for.. not mega church, not tiny church, not charismatic, not reform, just.. one body.

    1. It is so encouraging to see you re-blogging my posts! I noticed you are from the other side of the world too! It is amazing to see someone from so far away being impacted by my blog. Thank you so much.

  2. That was just beautiful. It really touched my heart. I often thought of the same thing your thinking but I just could not word it. And you did the job. Thanks my little brother. Love You, Marlea (mannys wife)

  3. Amazing stuff! I have totally been wrestling with what true community looks like in our day. As friends of God, we have the awesome ability to share in his character, and to enter into relationship. I think we as a church are too focused on ourselves and our shortcomings, that building family is the last thing on our minds. However, we were designed for community– and I believe that is also something the world is hungry for.
    A genuine sense of family and community is rare in our individualistic culture– and I am excited to see our generation rise up and reclaim it!

    1. You are welcome. That’s the cool thing about God. What is ancient in Him is timeless. The oldest things in His nature are still just as actively shaping the future as they have shaped the past.

  4. Hi again Brother, I agree and understand your heart message although I would add that Unity can only come through God’s Truth and in this Unity only is freedom.

    After coming to real heart repentance but because of so much conflicting teaching I felt very unsure about what was Truth and so had doubts. One day as I was reading the Scriptures a verse touched my heart, Mark 9:24 some Christians call this a Rhema Scripture, it said… that a man’s son was in need of healing and Jesus asked him do you believe, the man answered yes I believe but please help my unbelief and so I also asked Jesus to help my unbelief.

    Not long after this realizing I was very confused because of the conflicting teaching in the Churches and by Theologians and Evangelists even those who had a high profile and yes they all claimed what they believed was True but what they taught was different which means some of them were trusting in their own worldly understanding or what they had been taught instead of God’s Truth. I knew this to be True because The Holy Spirit does not say one thing to one person and something different to someone else when it contradicts and as I knew we are not to agree to disagree but to take our differences to God and he will show us who is in error because we are to have the same focus and to be of one mind and purpose, it confused me greatly because how could they all have the mind of Christ and also be in conflict which was shown by their division .

    I prayed to God for His help again and He gave me another Rhema Scripture James1:5-8 I asked in Faith for God’s wisdom and I have no doubts that I have received it and that it is growing in my heart in knowelage and insight and will continue to do so as He perfects me in His Love to conform me to the image of His Son. What God has shared with me He has confirmed in His written word by His Living Word but as I said before I am still learning but I know without a doubt what God has already shown me His Truth and I don’t doubt it …. Jesus tells us we don’t have because we don’t ask with Faith believing what He says He will do and I found this is very True.

    Why don’t people believe because they don’t ask!

    Christian Love Sister Anne.

    1. I definitely agree that Unity comes only through God’s Truth, and that His Truth is freedom. After all, He did say that “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” That’s why I love the statement of Jesus that He IS the Truth. Not a doctrine, a perspective, or an interpretation, but a living, breathing Man who is God. This beautiful statement that if you know Him, you are set free. Incredible. Truth is a relationship with a Person. That is actually the foundation of this blog. To lead people deeper in their relationship with Jesus, not simply to correct or change perspectives. I expand upon this concept a lot in my post Why Wrong Theology Works. I have had very similar experiences in the church, as well as at a Christian college. It’s incredible and confusing to see people with such different theology that is actually working for them. How is it that wrong theology works? I prayed for God to help me with that question, and I believe He has given me some powerful answers. If you have not already, I would encourage you to read that post. I think you’ll like it.

      1. Hi Brother, as hard as this may be for some to accept wrong theology does not work it causes harm,it is very True, yes for a while it my seem to be the solution but will eventually cause problems and bondage because only the Truth will set you free and yes Jesus is indeed The Truth and so are His words or guidlines as you can see below…

        John 8:34-36 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

        Christian Love Sister Anne

      2. I would really encourage you to read the post I mentioned in my previous comment, along with the follow up comments of others and myself. It will bring a lot of clarity to what I mean. The post is called “Why Wrong Theology Works.” I would love to hear your thoughts after you read it and the comments. I say to read the comments because I clarify things quite a bit in a few of them.

  5. I agree with a lot of what you are saying. I have believed that the “church” of today is far from the chuch originally. Religion is nothing like relationship. I want to hear more. I’m going to follow your blog and see what you have to say.

  6. Hey! First off – I LOVE that tree!! An incredible picture of God’s Love for us in His creation.

    Okay, I’m a lot older than you. I suspect my kids are your age. But I believe what you have written here is inspired by the Holy Spirit. I don’t often say that. And I don’t want you to get a “big head” over it. 🙂 But this is precisely why I have made my teaching ministry focused on the Word and on the first century Church. You have captured in this one post the essence of the problem and potential solution for our culture and our churches in the US.

    The potential problem is that you allow it to become one of them. In other words, take what you have discovered and make it a new “denomination.” I do not know if it is possible today – 2100 years from the original deal – to recreate the culture of those first congregations. But you have the right idea.

    I will be praying for you and this group. And in a day or so (I have a time problem) I want to re-blog this. My community is not that large but I want others to read your post.

    Stay on your knees and keep your armor on. Get an accountability partner! (very important). Because The Enemy will not tolerate what you are attempting to accomplish for the Kingdom!

    May God bless you!

    1. Thank you so much. I’m honored by your words.

      Much like that tree, (which by the way is about 1400 years old itself) I believe the church is growing. The Family Tree is expanding and it’s beautiful. Some branches, even whole sections, have had to be cut off or pruned or healed from the fungus growing there, but it is still going forward toward something. Because of this, I don’t think we necessarily need to get BACK to somewhere, so much as to move on to somewhere. The first century church has so much to offer us, and they were so right on that we have the book of Acts, but they were still broken, just like us. I believe God’s people are grabbing on to the truths He has revealed throughout history, and moving forward into the Bride’s destiny. The good news is His Bride is still His, not ours. Thank God! So we don’t have a burden of recreating something that is “gone,” but we do have the responsibility of faithfully stewarding what God is growing according the the roots that we still stand on. And I definitely agree with you; starting another denomination is not the point. We are all part of one tree. It’s about unifying the people of God’s Tree, not trying to build our own branch.

      Finally, I love your heart. I can hear genuine love in your words, and genuine care. It is very beautiful. I do have a few mentors and deep friends that hold me accountable and keep me on track. Without them, I would be in real trouble. Keep praying though. I can certainly use all I can get. 🙂 Thank you again.

      Karsten

      1. You are quite right that God is ever working new things in the life of His Kingdom; and I agree we are not (actually cannot) recreate the world of 2100 years ago. We will not grasp the extent of His creativity until eternity. He breathes a “fresh wind,” constantly seeking those willing to move and grow with Him. He sought a Bride for His Son before the foundation of time. He does not look kindly on those who abuse the purity of the Bride.

        Blessings as you move in His Truth!

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