I find great energy in the Acts of the Apostles. This account written to “Theophilus” (a lover of God) is the root of my reassuring my faith in the beliefs of Jesus and his message.
It is difficult sometimes to have faith in what others say they have seen or witnessed. It is difficult to believe when so many before have accepted faith blindly and not questioned it. There are many twists and turns in the road of life. So too, a road to faith, has it ups and downs as well as twists and unexpected turns.
For a renewal of faith, for a renewal of energy, in the belief that Jesus is the unique messenger sent by God to bind all nations and all times in some common belief system, I turn always to Acts. If you struggle that hard for something as in those pages, maybe there is something worth struggling for.
What first century Christians believed in is perhaps much different than what third or fourth century Christians believed in. Much different than what I in my heart might believe in. My beliefs are not that important. They are many times shifting with the trends and winds of man. I look to Paul and his cronies and I see a very human church with many everyday problems in an everyday world - foundation stones of a new and future global faith.
Paul and Peter and the other apostles could get that old chi-ro mojo going via the Holy Spirit and work a few real miracles amidst both believers and non-believers alike. It has always been a group effort thing. Grace flows more freely when all present are asking for the same thing or acting in concert with one another and in the name of the Almighty.
The biggest problem, in those early years, was probably crossing the “t”s and dotting the “i”s. This in terms of remembering what the Master said and what he meant and throwing in a little basic Psalms and Isaiah to plot the story and the vision and be able to live with the current mission statement of the new cult.
It was viewed as a cult. Paul and his avenging horsemen going up to Damascus was about wiping out a nest of these new believers and heretics of the old faith.
I mentioned this energy thing and Acts to a friend in his house some ten odd years ago. He was also a recycled R.C. who had found a place in the comfort of the local congregation. He mentioned how christianity keeps splitting up into cults and sects. I had to think about that a bit. Of course when does a splinter group become a cult and how many does it takes to become a sect etc.?
Out of those thoughts came the thought that faith in another’s faith is perhaps extraordinary faith. I look at Paul to try and see the global gentile view of any matter at hand.
What we see today as a break down of old time culture is perhaps the way that people in the emerging global culture embrace materialism without question. There is no old fashioned sense of a balance of things. You probably should give up something when you embrace something else. If you do not do this then perhaps you have no concept of the value of things real or spiritual. Few, I think have dedicated time or energy to these concepts.
The electronic comfort bubble of cell phones, virtual reality and 24/7 sensory overload or addiction make many blind to the outside the door decline in the quality of life. The selfish lifestyle within that doorway can be had at the push of a button and the use of plastic. A person’s home, once his castle, can be a prison as well without one necessarily being aware of it
The breakdown in religious observance and or religion and God as the center of the culture is something I see in flux as a new global pagan god of materialism emerges. This new selfish thing makes people not wanting to seek the comfort of the concept of God or even to explore spirituality within. This new selfish thing ignores the soul of self and does not recognize the existence of or dignity of the soul within one’s neighbor.
When you can reduce people to numbers, they can be dismissed as statistics and factored out of any equation, political and or economic. Hitler, Stalin and Mao amassed many statistics to their credit in their evil little inhuman lives. And then there is Wall Street...
Which brings me to an observation. What we in the west as Christians have been told -what christianity is about - for 1700 years – is what the civil authority says it is - since General Constantine started his own designer religion to facilitate his ambitions of blood and conquest.
I think that the needs of Constantine the Great are a bit different than what our spiritual needs are today. Some church councils endorsed some obsolete and archaic concepts in the past as pillars of faith. Perhaps some new honest and human councils can start plotting 21st century spiritual priorities for a new global faith of all nations.
The words of the peasant and prophet and a true son of God in the form of Jesus are greatly ignored or misunderstood these modern days. Why is that my dear brothers and sisters?
There is a basic historic model. That the spiritual needs of the population should be addressed after General Moses or General Constantine or General Mohammed have set up the civil state. I believe that the sacred and the secular should be separate as much as possible in society.
The civil discourse and the commerce of nations is important but “what does it profit a man or woman if he or she gain the whole world and suffer the loss of their immortal soul?”.