The earliest Christians are an interesting group of people. They didn’t have any of the epistles to go by, nor were the gospels yet penned. They had only what they had heard preached to them about Jesus, and this led them to meet together for meals, to sing with and teach one another, and to ensure that none among them had any need that went unmet by those who were gathered.
Early Christianity was simple, and in a way, beautiful. Over time, epistles were written, particularly by Paul, to issue course corrections for these earliest of gatherings.
A lot was said in regards to what those Christians believed, but as for their practice? After the epistles, they still met in homes. They still enjoyed meals together. They still communed rather than being led by one man or small group of elders. They still practiced cheerful giving and charity. The epistles didn’t stamp out those practices.
How did those earliest families of believers change into the corporate churches of nowadays, led by paid orators that can’t ensure no one among their number is going without because the church has bills and paychecks and building programs to fund? How did the communion meal get reduced to a cracker and half an ounce of wine or juice?
How is it that today’s churches, with the full twenty-seven books of the New Testament to guide them somehow so grossly miss the beautiful simplicity that should be Christianity when the earliest Christians were able to suss it out without the written scriptures to guide them?
Unto whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48), and we have billions — billions! — of Christians in the world today who have access to the entire Bible, hundreds of translations of the Bible (in English alone!), countless free Bible study resources, upwards of forty million religious leaders (assuming around thirty-seven million Christian churches and many of them having multiple elders and deacons) to learn from, and more.
I can only imagine what it would be like if we had multiple science centers filled with free resources and led by eager scientists willing to teach for free, scattered throughout just about every town and city!
Christians have that. They have more access to their theology and history than just about any group of people have ever had.
Therefore, it absolutely and thoroughly boggles my mind that so many of today’s gatherings of Christians miss the point.