We are still the early Christians, at least,
we can be if we want to.
This doesn’t mean trying to set up yet another church denomination to ‘purify’ the Church of all the accumulations of tradition and what not that seems to obscure the Good News. Actually, it isn’t the traditions per se that obscure the Good News. Administered rightly, the traditions do what they were designed to do: amplify the Good News and integrate it into our personal lives.
What obscures the Good News is something so close to us that we can’t often see it. It’s our tendency to want the appearance rather than the reality of anything. The mind awake knows better, knows this tendency and refutes it, saying as C. S. Lewis writes, ‘I want God, not my idea of God.’ This is what the Christian mind awake realizes about God and, this being its starting point, begins to untie the knot of its self-deception.
Acknowledging the holy scriptures formally does nothing to promote our life in Christ. We must with the fear of God, with faith and love draw near to them. We must humbly bow our stiff necks and tender our tough hearts into the faithful care of the Word of God. Studying them in this way, we are drawn to the same life that the holy apostles and early church brothers lived. Why? Because we realize we want it.
When I read the first letter of holy apostle Paul to his spiritual son Timothy the other day, I didn’t read a daily portion. I couldn’t read any less than the whole book, cover to cover, short as it is. It drew me into itself, not in the imagination, but in the spirit of the life it contains. Reading it this way, I was placed right then and there, living the same church life that they live, with them. Why? Because it’s still happening.
As I said at first, we are the early Christians, and that’s that, but only if we want to be. Once you discover that through living in the holy scriptures, once you have had a taste of that life, that real Church life, you realize there really isn’t any other kind, everything else seems fake, seems contrived. Fellowship with the saints becomes more than a review of history, and you realize what it means to have an indelible baptism.
Christ is not religion to me, nor are He and His holy apostles and saints too exalted to be my friends, nor is the Holy Spirit an excuse for me to rest in comfortable exile from my heavenly home.
Instead, the Book is the door that was left open in my path, and I walked through it to find that all it says is true, that there is a heavenly country, that paradise still exists, that the Church has never changed, never been divided, and that it’s my Home now, and to the ages of ages.
Behold, I have set before thee an open door,
and no man can shut it.
Ιδου, δεδωκα ενωπιον σου θυραν ανεωγμενην,
και ουδεις δυναται κλεισαι αυτην.