Important Things We Can Learn from the Antioch Church part 3
Jul 01, 2010 by Alex Mekonnen | 0 Comments
If we want to make a positive impact in the society we live and serve Christ, like the Antioch church our mark of Christianity should be love. It was in Antioch that the Jews and the Gentiles ate together, worship together, and serve God together. The Christians broke the barriers that separated the Jews from the Gentiles from time memorial. The barriers were ritual, cultural, racial, religious, and ethnic. The politics of the imperial Rome, the philosophy of Greek, the commerce and industry of Antioch could not bring them together. But the love of God that the Christians received through Jesus Christ melts down the wall of barrier and gave the people of God new identity. The transformational change made them salt and light in the world in which they lived and gave them credibility to be heard for the Good News they proclaimed. Expressing the power of love, one of the key teachers in Antioch church, the apostle Paul wrote; “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 13: 4-8).
Christianity is not mere theory irrelevant to our daily life and issues we face as we encounter with people in the real world. The truth we embrace can be applied in practical situations and touch the lives of many to be open to Christ. If we make our churches open to people of all culture, all racial, social and economic background, and make them feel members of the family of God, a “chosen generation”, that can transcend the bias, stereotype outlook of the society we live in, and bring reconciliation and peace. We can attract nonbelievers like a magnet. People are hungry for genuine love, acceptance, friendship, and fellowship.
We have to be extra sensitive and compassionate to the need around us and beyond. A numb conscience is the most dangerous sign of our spiritual health. The things that moved Christ for change and action should move the church. “Do not merely listen to the word and deceive yourself. Do what it says” (James 1:22-23). The culture of Enlightenment that discouraged faith has to be systematically exposed and the place of faith in Christianity needs to be rediscovered and embraced both biblically and theologically. Ravenhill writes: “We have adopted the convenient theory that the Bible is a Book to be explained, whereas first and foremost it is a Book to be believed (and after that to be obeyed).” The church should know Christ and make him known. The doctrine of incarnation, his death and resurrection, his role in creation and his power to sustain it, his coming in glory to restore all things, and his everlasting kingdom should be our message and hope.
When we live as sojourners and treat others with love as fellow pilgrims, the impact we’ll make in the lives of believers is indelible. Our preaching and teaching to nonbelievers carry credibility that can’t be easily challenged.
Think for a moment. What is the mark of your church? Is it known for its impressive building, expository preaching of the pastor, Christmas concert, mission across Atlantic, or genuine and healing love that Paul talked about? All of the former things mentioned are good Christian things to be known for. But if there is no love, there is no ministry—“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1).