Community Formation Around the Resurrection Experience
Vs. 32 Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.
Resurrection is the central point behind Christianity. We may hear about resurrection quite often, but can we truly comprehend the power that it brings? When we look at the Early Church, we see how significantly resurrection impacted the lives of the early followers of Jesus.
Characteristics of the Early Church: As a side note, the early followers of Jesus were not called Christians. In fact, they were often referred to as “Followers of the Way.” The community of early followers that made up the Early Church did not live in a favorable time period. Jesus’ initial followers were considered a threat to the Roman government due to their uncommon practices and unwillingness to take part in Rome’s pagan rituals. For such reasons, they faced a constant threat of harsh persecution. However, that did not deter a majority of those early followers. Many of the early followers were empowered by the resurrection and willing to die for their faith. In addition, the Early Church members deeply cared for those who were in financial and spiritual need. Riches were, in a sense, communal. Indeed, resurrection was the driving force of the early Christian communities.
Pros and cons of the contemporary church: Nowadays, we find that the Church has split into a number of denominations. Also, many have misconstrued the message featured in the Gospel for personal gain. Modern day communities lack the unity that was present in the Early Church community, and thus, there is no strong foundation upon which to build upon. Rather than acting as the focal point, the story of Jesus’ resurrection has become a side note. These are the cons, but one also has to consider the pros of the contemporary church. Contemporary churches certainly have a greater amount of wealth and resources than the churches present in disciples’ time. The Vatican is a testimony to that fact. In spite of the wealth, there are still millions in need of basic necessities. Even pros of the contemporary church can become cons when deserving communities and peoples are not served in the way the Gospel commissions. Our churches can be agents of active community formation, but that only occurs when the power of resurrection becomes the true driving force.
Heavenly Father, at this time we come into Your Holy presence. We pray that You allow our respective churches to act as the believers in the Early Church did. They truly loved their neighbors, and the fruits of their labor were evident. Help us to form communities as early believers did and empower those around us so that they can come to know You as well. Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
God’s work has yet to be fulfilled as long as there are needy among us.
Christin Mathew, Epiphany MTC, NY
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church