Many Christians want to return to the New Testament brand of Christianity. Many from the heritage I grew up in want to restore N.T. Christianity in theory and practice, and I agree. I truly believe we need to restore the true religion that Jesus taught about – and preached/quoted from Micah 6:6-8:
6 With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Now, let’s go back and re-read that passage and do the fortune cookie exercise… Except we’re going to put “On Sunday” at the END each sentence of those 3 verses.
I’m in a class this week at Lipscomb called, “Critical Interpretation of the New Testament.” We’re talking about a number of issues that had a deep impact on the early Christian atmosphere and experience. What “canon” did they have to study from? Did they just flip over to 2 Peter and read about the Day of the Lord? Far from it… the early Christians may have had the 2nd letter of Peter. But if so, it would have been rolled up most likely as a papyrus scroll, in the pottery urn with many other scrolls. They might have had random letters or gospel accounts. They may have had random Hebrew texts as well, or if they were “rich” and fortunate, a copy of the Septuagint (LXX) – or Greek translation of the Old Testament.
Their faith and Christian walk was far more incarnational than specifically doctrinal; by incarnational, I simply mean that it was far more active in ethical and daily walk than we often may do. Whether we intend to or not, we often reduce our Christian identity to a doctrinal set of rules, or sometimes a life limited to the building we meet in as a church. In true restoration thinking, and in Jesus’ true teaching, the kingdom is in US. Not in the building, nor in some corporate entity that is greater than our own personal identity. None of this is to say doctrine didn’t matter… quite to the contrary – just read the Corinthian letters or the letter to the Romans, or any other epistle that addressed certain topics. But our problem is a problem of orientation. Orientation not in the sense of “learning” – but in the sense of our point of view; our location in time and place versus their contextual period and place and time understanding the instruction much more clearly.
I am learning in this class a deeper appreciation for scripture than I ever have had. It is precious, and what we have is what the Spirit intended for us to have. And yet as God’s children today, we must not be guilty of Bibliolatry – that is – worship of the word (or Bible) itself, rather than the God, the Savior, the Spirit, and living the reciprocal life of love and service that the true Word (Jesus) leads us to live. THAT is what I want to restore. Not merely the dogma of the early church. In the coming days/weeks, I’ll try to take several issues from different epistles and contextualize them into their time, place, and application.
LORD, may you help us to be humble. You are all powerful and glorious, and Father I pray for your guidance for us all. For us to glorify you and live in your Son Jesus, and that we will demonstrate the Kingdom’s coming in our lives, by the very presence of our King’s love and perfect teachings.