Here's a new word for your vocabulary: syncretism. It describes what happens when beliefs and customs from a variety of sources merge and become a kind of secular religion. There were Jewish Christians in Antioch who only shared the good news with other Hebrew-speaking people. But, when persons who spoke the common language of the world shared Jesus with others like them, they were the first to be called Christians. What does it mean to be a Christian? How can Christian Believers separate themselves from the syncretized Church?
The fellowship of the believers inspired awe as its behavior to the Lord and each other was radically different from the norm. Yet, conflict arose, even in the young Jerusalem Church. It proves that every movement is destined to beget an organization and every organization is destined to beget corruption, even the apostle-led Church of Jesus Christ. With the Lord's help, we can manage the corruption (think "decay") and remain Kingdom-oriented.
In the latest series, "Acts," we will look at the Church as it is defined in the Book of Acts of the Apostles. While we allow for the cultural and technological differences between our times and theirs, we will nevertheless strive to understand the kind of people of God we are called to be and what we can do to establish Christ’s Kingdom in our midst.
On Sunday we enjoyed our first onsite visit to the Lord’s Table since last winter. Even as we do so, there will be fewer of us present and we will be observing safe distancing. Holy communion is indented to be a very intimate expression of faith and unity so the Eucharistic liturgy may seem strange. The message from Hebrews 12:1-3 reminds us that we are among a great throng of Christ-followers, even when we can't see them.
Read Revelation 3:14-22 - See that there is nothing particularly outstanding about Laodicea. The Church there, like the city’s water supply, was compromised. They adjusted their temperament according to the perceived climate; Laodicean Christians did not passionately stand for anything. They attended worship services and other functions out of habit and expected nothing out of the ordinary of their Church or themselves. Is this your church's story too?
The people of God often gave up their faith in God as they wandered in the wilderness. Sadly, the unfaithful pressured others to adopt their faithless self-determination. Sometimes, they even pressured their leaders to conform. The most glaring example of this situation is the familiar story of the Israelites who melted their jewelry and formed a golden calf while Moses met with God on the mountain. Do Christians make false gods that satisfy the flesh? Do they ever call these idols the God who saved them?