Cerulean Sanctum has been quiet lately. Truth is, that quiet reflects the disquiet I have in my own spirit.
I don’t know how most people live, but I guess they erect filters to keep the madness out. Head down, nose clean, and a gracious nod to the status quo. Don’t get too involved. Keep emotions stifled. And for heaven’s sake, don’t go around poking sleeping bears with a stick.
Which makes me wonder if I have a screw loose, because I keep my pointy stick close by.
Frankly, I’m pretty much fed up with American Christianity. I’m certainly not angry with Jesus. By no means! But I feel helpless as I watch people who claim to be Christians go off the rails. I’m not a perfect saint, but it continues to horrify me how badly some Christians have brainwashed themselves into ways of thinking that in no way reflect anything I read in the Bible. I’m not talking about the obvious heretics, either, but people with a platform and a loud microphone, blog, or publisher, who disseminate stuff that only serves to diminish the Church. They may look like they’re serving the saints, but in all likelihood they are actually preaching some sliced-up gospel that bears no resemblance to the real one. And many of these people continue to be considered the be all and end all of Christianity in North America.
I’m convinced that our collective maintenance of the status quo enables us to read the Scriptures and not have them affect us one iota. I witness how some folks read the Bible and it blows my mind that passages that should explode everything a person believes don’t even register.
I dare each person reading this today to sit down this week and read the Book of Acts, preferably in one sitting. I’m not talking about an in-depth study, but just read the book.
Now I ask you: Does what you just read in Acts depict today’s Church? If not, why not?
I’ve been reading Acts with my son, and what continually hits me is how far we are from being that kind of vibrant, miraculous, committed Church.
I mean, I read Christian blogs and books today that tell you and me how weak and sinful we are and that what we have today is better than what the Church had back then.
I call shenanigans on those people.
Stop making excuses for faithlessness! Stop telling us how sinful and weak we are, and start preaching the full gospel that we believers are now new creations, seated in the heavenly places with Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit to do even greater things than Jesus did.
That’s in the Book, folks, but some people just can’t deal with truth.
It makes me crazy that some people can tell me with straight face that God has given us something better today than what those folks had back then.
Really? Makes me want to know if they have ever read the Book of Acts.
“Oh, that’s just descriptive, not prescriptive,” they’ll say.
You know what I say? “Stop doubting and start believing.”
I find it insane that the same people who will denigrate personal experience when it comes to anything related to the practice of the Faith will run immediately to their own personal experiences when confronted by biblical realities and practices they reject. They claim to uphold biblical truth, yet their double standard condemns their rhetoric.
There’s not a Christian on this continent, no matter which denomination or sect he or she endorses, who hasn’t turned a blind eye to some part of Acts. Some people gloss over the charismata, some the community, some the evangelism, some the commitment and martyrdom. Simply put, we as a Church in North America do not want to peer into Acts and deal with what we read there.
I don’t understand the kind of half-baked “church” some people endorse. Especially when their “church” doesn’t look anything like the one depicted in Acts.
I’m sick of those who ignore parts of the Scriptures because that’s what they’ve been taught to do. I’m sick of playing at Church rather than actually being the same kind of Church we see in the Book of Acts.
Keep your blogs, your books, your podcasts, and your pieced-together rhetoric. Just give me the Book of Acts.
13 thoughts on “Just Give Me the Book of Acts”
Another hardy Amen, Dan. I’m sick of “normal” church too. If we don’t own our faithlessness, then we will never grow past it. You’re absolutely correct in saying that the book of Acts should be our standard, and if we are not measuring up, then the problem is with us.
You used the word normal. Watchman Nee has a book, The Normal Christian Life, that accentuates that supernatural, overcoming paradigm we see on display in Acts. If anything is abnormal, it’s the mentality we’ve adopted that puts so many rationalistic limits on what God can and will do. Nothing makes me more crazy than going to solid Christian people and asking them why it is that we don’t do this or that, only to have them serve up a bazillion excuses. It’s a defense against being asked to live more differently than we do. In truth, it’s just plain, ol’ faithlessness.
When it comes to Watchman Nee, I’ve always (in the words of Han Solo) “got a bad feeling about this.”
I suspect some of it has to do with the way Nee was pushed on me in the Seventies, during my stint in-country in Fundagelicalism — like he was God’s Oracle, almost a Fourth Person of the Trinity.
Looking back, I suspect I ran into a couple Watchman Nee fanboys early on and ended up with a “one fanboy too many” reaction.
What does that actually mean? What does that mean about the power of the Holy Spirit or the claims people make about feeling God move in their lives and every other story we hear about Christians and the North American church? I guess my fundamental question is, if I claim to be saved, and I have the Holy Spirit living within me, and I belong to a church of people who are also saved, then that is going to be an awesome church. Working backwards, if it’s not an awesome church, then…
Can you really be a failure of a Christian? Wouldn’t that mean you’re just no Christian at all? I have trouble reconciling the book of Acts with many of the Christians today who are well-intentioned but nevertheless keep sinning and wallowing in their guilt instead of actually changing. What does that -mean-? That many of the people who call themselves Christians are not?
I think it means that our way of thinking is too influenced by rationalism. We live in this soup of Western thought that works against everything the Bible says is normal. And before anyone says that this is the way it has always been due to sin, I think it’s worse today. People back in the age of Acts still held to a worldview that the world was mysterious and that the supernatural was possible. We’ve killed that thinking deader than dead in the West, so our deficit is massive. We truly do have more to overcome to get to the place that people were in A.D. 50.
John writes about people who sat around a pool of water hoping that an angel would stir it so they could plunge in and be healed. We don’t think like that, for the most part. Sure, there are people who make pilgrimages to Lourdes and such places, but not most of us. At least not anymore. So we end up limiting what God can do. We still see only with our limited, physical eyes and not with the eyes of a faithful heart. Jesus could no few miracles in His hometown because the people denigrated what He could do. That should be a lesson for us all.
If God’s power in our life is contingent upon the depth of our belief, how then are we ever first saved? I remember when I became a Christian, it was a powerful, moving experience for which I have no other explanation than the Holy Spirit speaking to the truth of Christ to me. The day before this happened, of course I was limiting what God could do; I didn’t believe in Christ. But the day after, I believed. My limitations weren’t any match for the power of God.
So why does this change later down in the road in our Christian walk?
While your point is WELL taken, I would also add that during the period of the Acts of the Apostles the letters to Corinth and Galatia (and the rest) were being written to deal with all sorts of problems and heretical teachings these early churches were already dealing with. So along with the apostolic power at work there were forces already seeking to destroy the church. And the battle wages on.
It is good, though, as you are doing to continue to stir one another up to faith and good works!
I must say I get weary of the “wretched man” wallowing that seems to be heavily encouraged in many circles. Paul did not stop writing at Romans Seven. We’ve GOT to keep reading to get to Romans Eight and the life in the Spirit.
One could argue that the growing pains of the Church were just that. If anything, a couple thousand years should have taught us something. That we seem to understand LESS is disconcerting.
Funny, I came to the same conviction recently too. So I’ve been going over Acts with a couple of commentaries and books. Not reading it in one sit-down, but hoping to get the same out of it.
I’m not too hung up over the “sinfulness” in the present American Church, however. As noted above, sin has been right at our door since the beginning. But I think what we miss is the empowerment by the Holy Spirit, the passion for the Gospel, and the joy of the fellowship. Church has become a country club. And that is completely contrary to the early Church.
I like how Francis Chan puts it (paraphrasing): We think the way they lived in Acts is crazy. But they just saw the resurrected Christ and witnessed miracles through the Apostles. What would have been crazy to them would be meeting once a week, singing a couple of songs, listening to a lesson, patting themselves on the back for being “Christian” and going back to their normal lives for another week. That is crazy.
Amen to what Chan said.
Agreed, Amen! thanks Dan
yes. lets live it like the early church and people will follow lets model it and help lift the church ….cheers…