I was discussing with someone why the current model of the church isn’t following the early church model and have been formulating a coherent thought about it ever since.
Why aren’t Christians over in war torn countries trying to help? Short answer, we are! There are missionaries from many different organizations who have gone to help the orphans and others. When there is a disaster, Christian organizations are some of the first to respond. In countries like Haiti, organizations have set up permanent residence and are helping on a daily basis, often with no intent to convert but only to offer medical assistance. We don’t hear about these organizations often because they aren’t sensational.
Second answer is this, not all people in the early church or the current model are called to over seas mission. Those who are are talked about in their churches circles and written about in books. Those who stay behind and fund these endeavors are often not talked about at all unless their contribution is huge and considered newsworthy by the sensational new media. Even in the early church there were more who were converted and did mission work in their own towns than left and traveled to convert others. Look at Dorcas, Priscilla and Aquila, Peter’s mother in law and many others. Paul was constantly writing to churches he started and why would he bother if every convert was out on the road prosthelytizing? Some people have to stay home and minister to their own community.
Communal living was a big part of the early church and frankly, the church has to grow with the culture in which it thrives. This communal living may work in countries other than the USA but here, where I live and now, when I live, culture is not at all like what it was when Jesus and his followers started the first group of Christians. (Also remember that people were worshiping God, the same God, long before we were called Christians. Now I am no theologian but just these few insights have changed the way I look at the Bible and its description of how the church should look. However, this should not detract from the message of the Bible and Christianity. We are to spread the message of God’s Love. How that looks and is accomplished is a matter of semantics.
I’m a Christian. I believe in God the way the protestant Christian church describes him to me. I believe He loves me, wants the best life on this earth for me and despite knowing better than me, would never take away my power of choice no matter how much I might hurt myself or others with those choices.
That being said, I have read Love Wins and although I don’t believe in every part of the books presumptions, I believe what I think is the strongest message in the book, that God cannot be limited. He cannot be contained by any description or theology. He is bigger than anything we can imagine and He can present Himself to those who may never know His name (do we even really know His name?) or His form or His church. I believe that there will be atheists in Heaven. I do absolutely mean those who identify themselves as atheists in North America where there is infinite information available via the internet and were we have unlimited access to churches and complete freedom to believe how we want. There are people, in this country, world… whatever, who have been presented with the idea of the Christian Jesus Christ in such a distorted way at an impressionable time in their life that they are not able to accept that idea of Him that way. I believe that only God Himself knows who will be happy in Heaven, which is an idea so far from what we know, that we cannot even fathom it. He alone can determine who will be in eternal bliss or in eternal hell in the Heavenly setting and we have no idea who He is working on and who He has already touched. Is it hard to understand that? Is it hard as a Christian to accept that we don’t have a guest list in hand? Yes. We think we have at least some of the answers and that we know who will be there with us but we really don’t. We don’t even know for sure who WON’T be there and that is an even harder concept to accept. It is easy to think we know who might be there but is it easy to accept that we don’t know for sure who won’t? Can we accept that? Can we, as Christians, be ok with what God decides at the end? I hope so because He is God! and we are not.