I wonder what you make of Christianity? I ask because I sometimes wonder too. I’m intrigued by what I read about the Christian church in the US. I’ve just read an article where church members are taking their megachurch pastor to court which seems crazy. I’ve checked up on three famous pastors. One is worth $25 million, one is worth $100 million and one is worth $300 million. The latter also has his own private jet. It turns out being a Christian leader in the US can be very lucrative. Not all Christians are like this of course. I’ve no doubt there are many wonderful, humble Christians for whom money means very little, but we don’t hear about those do we? The involvement of Christians in politics, predominantly on the right-wing has also caused concern particularly when a number were involved in the Capitol Riots. I’m not normally a critic of other Christians and I only mention these as examples of how far we can stray from what God intended. I deliberately left out their names and I pray that any true work they do for God will be blessed by him.
To bring us salvation and to enable us to live in the way he intends God sent his Son Jesus into the world. He came to take the punishment for our sins and through faith in him we are granted forgiveness, but that’s not all. Jesus came to show us how to live. This was so important to him that he spent forty days with his disciples before he returned to his father in heaven. In this time he taught them all they needed to know about what is called the kingdom of God, which would include how churches should be organised, what are the membership criteria and how Christians should interact with the wider world. What we have today is a far change from the simplicity of the early church. To become a member of the early church the criteria was very clear, “Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (1) Having believed that Jesus died for them and being sorry for their sins, they were baptised by full immersion. Once baptised they were added to the church. There were over 3000 added on the day the church came into existence but they didn’t set about building a church for themselves, they were the church and they met and worshipped in small groups around Jerusalem. “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.” (2) As for what as prescribed for them, amongst themselves,” They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (3) Jesus also told his disciples, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (4) In other words, get them to do what you have done.
That’s it. You never hear of the early church building mega-churches or any kind of church building. Their homes would do for a meeting or any building they could utilise. We have a building in Aberkenfig where the church meets but we don’t call it a church it’s just a building and it’s just for convenience, a place where we can meet together and where we can invite people to. The early church was only interested in following Jesus and living the simple life he espoused. There was no thought of making money for themselves. On the contrary, they were known for sharing what they had. It was once said of Jesus, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (5) If that’s how he lived his can we’ve money grabbers? They didn’t involve themselves in politics which just muddied the waters, all they wanted to do was live for Jesus and share him with others. They had elders, also called overseers, and deacons, but there were no vicars, reverends, ministers, priests, cardinals, archdeacons, archbishops or whatever. This church hierarchy seen today was never a part of the early church.
I hope the Christianity I’m presenting is more appealing than what you might see around you. The Church of God in Aberkenfig, and all other Churches of God within our worldwide Fellowship, aims to live a simple Christianity as Jesus taught. As people, we’re not perfect but our teaching and practise is based solely on what Jesus taught. Check us out on churchofgodaberkenfig.co.uk or churchesofgod.info where you’ll see how we fit into a wider Fellowship of churches all teaching and practising the same wherever they exist in the world.
- Acts 2:41
- Acts 2:45-47
- Acts 2:42
- Matthew 28:19,20
- Matthew 8:20