Monday, September 15, 2008

Church, Community and Culture

Is the fellowship of the people of God in Acts realistic or idealistic?

That is a question I've been kicking around a lot of late. The fellowship of the church in Acts is one where daily interaction, communal sharing, and mutual encouragement are the norm. In a culture without the entertainment trappings and consumer choices as is ours, the lives of those early disciples were deeply integrated. The division of the spiritual and the secular that dominates our mentality would've been altogether foreign to their thinking.

But is their practice possible in our setting? Are we to look upon the example of the fellowship of the churches in Acts and dismiss it because it is not culturally conducive? And does our culture have a greater impact on how we do church that we recognize?

In the quest to restore the first century church, could it be that we've got a long farther to go in terms of community than we often realize?

"The story of the book of Acts is the amazing story of egotistical, self-centered behavior converted into attitudes of sharing and caring, of being ready to let go and to share for the benefit of the whole community. And concrete actions did take place. We read in Acts that no one thought of his/her possessions as something to own privately. Everyone understood material goods as gifts from God, given for the benefit of the whole community. That is why there were no needy people in this community of the Spirit. The very visible expressions of life in this community attracted others, and regularly people expressed interest in joining the community and in working together at God's project. Isn't this exactly what God had always wanted" (Bernhard Ott, God's Shalom Project, p. 89)?

Isn't it what God still wants today?