I have to watch myself and not glamorize the first century church. I wish I could gain an understanding of the Holy Spirit power as it moved through the new believers, but glimpses in Acts tells me it was still messy and it was still made up of ordinary people. In fact, the extraordinary revelation of the Gospel was probably more taxing and more confusing and more divisive than some of our modern-day challenges.
The fact that this baby church was already faced with the need to create committees and ministry leaders and that sections of the Body were already feeling isolation and segregation and pre-conceived ideologies of the proper Christ+law practices were being super-imposed should really unveil the humanity of the first century church.
But, like childbirth, new life is still miraculous! And while messy, it immediately changes all priorities. Peter was like a new dad – holding this messy, loud infant church and doing his best by the Holy Spirit to lead and raise it into a mature, functional Body of believers that operated in its divine design. And in the upcoming lessons, we will see Saul become Paul and continue to navigate the challenges of Jews and Gentiles – the chosen and the outcast – learning to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
If you have free time (insert laugh here), this is my next recommendation for some additional Bible enhancement material. This is a 5-part video series on the birth of Christianity within the historical timeline at the height of the Roman Empire, narrated by Dr. Joseph Stowell of Cornerstone University. If you enjoy history, it is a great series on themerging of Roman influence with Christianity.
The 21st century church is still close to the heart of Jesus. May we treat it with the same love and care and compassion and wisdom that the apostles did for the 1st century church.