Tuesday, June 7, 2016

going forward by looking back . . .

Sometimes it is helpful to go back to your roots to know the way forward.

Really back . . .

When Christianity was just a baby - the days following the resurrection - early Christians were known as followers of "The Way."  Well, that is, if you heard of it.  "The Way" was an obscure sect -  a peculiar splinter group from Judaism.  Most people just heard of Jewish people trying to stomp out this weird religious cult that had someone named Jesus as their founder.

Fast forward a few decades and Christianity had begun to spread - especially in city centers and among the poor and neglected.  It rejected mainstream Roman values and so Romans joined Jews is persecuting this growing sect of religious oddballs.  That persecution seemed to fan the small flames of the faith into a worldwide community of believers.

For the next few hundred years Christians would go through periods of intense persecution (apprehended by law enforcement, tied up, covered in tar and lit on fire for the Emperor's gardens).  

Until the fourth century, when a certain Emperor named Constantine came to power having a vision that tied him to the Christian faith.  He signed an edict that expanded religious freedoms and allowed Christians to practice their faith freely. 

It seemed like a blessing from God.

Some, however, call it the death of real Christianity.  Because the Emperor now aligned himself with this new faith, Christians came out of the closet.  The cross was now en vogue.  Hundreds of years of persecution had suddenly come to an end with the state endorsement of faith.  It was now impossible to tell who was a believer and who was using faith to their social or political advantage.

It got so bad that some people just took off for the desert.  Like moving to Canada - these were the first desert fathers - monks who had no stomach for fake faith.

And so where is your desert?  And what will it take for you to forsake the surface for the substance?  Would we do better to be persecuted?  And what does it all mean with what is about to happen in the next six months?

God help us.

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