I noticed that John Piper asked if the Church can grow when it has a bad name. He quoted the book of Acts “everywhere this sect is spoken against.” (28:22) For those who don’t know, Acts recounts the story of Christianity’s explosion after the death, and resurrection of Christ.
I thought this was an overly simplistic description, à la twitter; and perhaps a dangerous justification for the Western Church as it currently stands. The first century church was a group of the powerless doing powerful things. They loved the outcasts. They healed the sick. They got right in with the poor, inviting them into their homes, and selling what they had to help those who had nothing. They were despised because they associated with the despised. We are despised because we are despicable.
I remember watching the lead singer of Pedro the Lion talking about the modern church, and saying how people have this illusion that we are living in the book of acts. I would agree in as much as I’m sick of people taking statements like “they numbered around 5000″ in Jerusalem and using this as a justification for a church that barely functions as a place of learning, let alone of place of community. Every time we use scripture to justify ourselves, instead of having it convict us, we are in a dangerous position.
We have to become powerless, making ourselves as nothing, and become despised because of our living out Christ’s difficult call before we can claim the context of Acts 28:22. Otherwise we are hopelessly out of context, yet again.
For an example of people who are living it out please watch Shane Claibourne and Oscar Muriu on the Day Four video at the Urbana website.