Everywhere I go these days I am meeting people who are gravely concerned about the condition of Christianity in this generation. I cannot tell you how many conversations I have had that were focussed on the idea that “something is definitely wrong” and “we need help!” It spans all ages. It spans all groups. It spans all the denominations, camps, and networks. It shows up in the tweets of our Southern Baptist friends. Mega-churches are concerned and mini-churches are too. It is commented on in the books written by new-evangelicals. The Millennials are concerned. Teens are concerned. Moms and Dads are concerned. The older generation is concerned. I suppose you are too. And quite frankly, we should be!
Think for a moment about the early church! In Acts we read these kind of stories:
Acts 1:14: These all continued with one accord in prayer, and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave then utterance.
Acts 2:41-42 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Acts 2: 47 Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Acts 3 tells the story of a lame man at the temple who asked for alms. Instead, Peter and John “took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God” (vv. 7-8).
Acts 4:4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
Acts 4:32-35 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own: but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of The Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all, Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
In this book, we read of the kind of New Testament Christianity about which all of us keep talking. It is a story of people praying and being filled with the Spirit and going everywhere preaching the Word. It is a story of people asking God to heal and miracles occurring as a result. It is a story of believers everywhere winning people to Christ and baptizing them and teaching them how to follow Jesus. It is a story of believers assembling together in local church congregations and selling their possessions and meeting each other’s needs and praying big prayers and seeing divine miracles. It is a story of a group of people who turned the world upside down. And may I remind you that their world was a world filled with the same kind of sins we are facing: humanism, adultery, homosexuality, divorce, idolatry, and such like! The government was corrupt. The mainstream religious leaders were unconverted and in many ways were just as wicked as the government leaders were. Many believers in the church were battling the same kind of problems the church today is battling. They were worldly and sometimes just plain wicked (read Paul’s letter to Corinth or the last half of his letter to the Ephesians). On top of all of that, they had no Bible colleges, no seminaries, very few books, no King James Bible (and most didn’t possess any other kind either), no internet, no websites, and no televisions and radios. They had few buildings and there is no record of any kind of choir. They didn’t have fancy lights and likely would have had no paved parking lots. And yet, Acts 19:10 states “that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of The Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks!”
As I think on this and read about it, it does seem like their Christianity was a drastic kind of Christianity. They prayed a lot. They won thousands to Christ. They baptized converts and taught them about following Jesus and church planting seemed to naturally follow. The sent out evangelists who took “missionary journeys” and preached the gospel all over the known world of that day. They sold houses and lands and gave the money away for the sake of Christ and fellow believers! They sometimes were forced out of towns and would simply go elsewhere and tell the people there about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection too.
Perhaps it is an oversimplification, but I think this may very well be the answer to our problem. How do we unify these older men with these Millennials? How do we handle this culture and all of its baggage? How do we “turn our world upside down?” Don’t we simply need the kind of drastic Christianity that they lived?
Jesus Himself spoke of living a drastic Christianity. He spoke of simply loving “The Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” and of “loving thy neighbor as thyself.” He emphatically stated that “whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” That is pretty drastic, wouldn’t you say?
There is no doubt that our needs are incredibly great. Our churches are filled with people who never witness, who seldom pray, and who rarely live by clear Bible principles. Many of our teens have not seen God’s power and many have not even heard about it! We are materialistic and live for yet another new car, another cool vacation, and the latest edition of the latest phone. We are heavily in debt for things that are decaying faster than we can enjoy them. We are quite often far more loyal to the latest edition of the culture of our day (evidenced, for instance, in things like our loyalty and love for entertainment of all forms and at just about any cost). Our children and teens are faced with enormous wickedness every time they link to the World Wide Web. Simply put, don’t you think we need some drastic Christianity?
Shouldn’t we determine to follow Christ at any cost?
Shouldn’t we determine to be more loyal to Christ than to the culture?
Shouldn’t we fast and pray and determine to be filled with the Spirit?
Shouldn’t we live frugally and give more?
Shouldn’t we serve together and send evangelists around the world to do what Paul did?
Shouldn’t we pray for healings and ask God for miracles?
Shouldn’t we go everywhere and give witness to the death, burial, and resurrection?
Shouldn’t we turn our world upside down by the mighty power of God?
I think we should! So let’s pray about it. Let’s humble ourselves, and seek his face, and turn from our wicked ways. Let’s see if He will “hear from heaven, and forgive our sins, and heal our land.”
Thanks for reading,