There is a tendency to regard Christian churches of the early days as ideal institutions, with all members working together in love, peace, and harmony. This makes a beautiful picture, but it is far from being accurate. In point of fact, the New Testament indicates that there were many dissensions and disturbances within the early Christian groups. We need to be mindful that even the early Christians who sometimes had access to one or more of the Apostles and had been baptized in the name of Jesus and received the gift of the Holy Spirit were still human and subject to human shortcomings, just like we are.
Bear in mind that these were relatively new Christians, whose way of life was radically altered from their former lifestyle. Many of the epistles in the New Testament contain specific instructions on how to deal with the problems that they encountered. Human nature being what it is, “the flesh” really hasn’t changed that much over the years and we can all learn from the mistakes they made and the solutions and truth that is provided within God’s Holy word.
One of the reasons I enjoy reading the New Testament Epistles is because God in His infinite wisdom, saw fit to ensure that we are made aware of the practical side of Christianity. It is important to put all things into the proper perspective, which is always from God’s point of view, looking at the guidance we have been given and recognizing pitfalls that we can encounter for what they truly are.
I was reading through Colossians the other day and here again Paul is dealing with the practical application of day to day living. In Colossians 2:16-17 NIV he states: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”
In Colossians 3: 5-10 he states: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.“
If that is not dealing with the practicality of what a Christian needs to do on a day to day basis, I don’t know what is.
In 2 Timothy 4:6-7 NIV Paul states: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
I’m obviously not in the same category as Paul is but I have to take his words to heart because at some point in time, our days on this earth will be over and I would like to be able to say those same words too. Every day counts, and the harder I try to emulate and live as the Holy Spirit guides me, the more I am aware of the distance between what is and what should be.
The early Christian church. those who kept the faith, are with our Lord now. Let us holdfast to the Gospel and dedicate our lives daily, to follow the Lord, in spite of our shortcomings, just like they did.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!