I'm watching A.D. Kingdom & Empire on Netflix right now. It is a wonderfully unsanitized, true-to-the-text, family-unfriendly treatment of Jesus' last days on earth and the months that followed, chronicled in the Book of Acts.
I'll warn you now, it's rough and hard to watch, but if you're paying attention, so is the Book of Acts.
I just watched the episode where the Jews stoned Stephen for saying Jesus was the Messiah. Standing there, watching, was a dude holding a coat. It's the Apostle Paul - but he's not Paul yet, he's still Saul - Jew of Jews, Pharisee, zealot, relentless persecutor of the early church
This Saul is the MOST bonkers religious fanatic you will ever see. He is a charismatic, spit-spraying lunatic, and it's fascinating to watch how zealotry spreads.
Peter (left), Jesus' right hand man, is leading a band of terrified new followers, and refuses to fight Saul. They're being arrested, beaten, even killed, and Peter, who was a fisherman, is now debating the scriptures publicly with a guy who's memorized the Torah.
Peter falls to his knees in the desert, bellowing to God as Saul chases him with a band of angry Jews wielding swords and the blessing of the High Priest.
So yah. That was the church in the first century.
What's yours like in the 21st?
Is this communion gluten free?
The A/C is way too cold in here.
I leave before the offering because - parking lot!
I'm not picking on anybody - I promise - I've said these very things myself. And as much as I love a perfect worship set and a well-delivered sermon, it bothers me that today's church is so about me, and Peter's was so about mission.
A.D. makes that painfully obvious.
Does this nag you too? Are you looking around at your church thinking: Is this what you had in mind Lord?
Are you wanting to get out of the pew and into the world, bringing love, light and good news, but you're not clear how?
Maybe you'd like to off load some of your blessing to someone who really needs it - do a little justice and mercy - but where and how and to whom?
Maybe you want to love God and love others in a radical way, like Jesus did, but handing out tracts seems ineffective and you've got concerns about short-term missions.
There's a name for this feeling:
It's called holy discontent.
The good news is, the solution is simpler than you think.
Step One: Know God and believe He created you for a purpose, one that likely involves mercy and justice.
Step Two: Clarify your vision surrounding that purpose.
Step Three: Map that vision and start executing it EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even when it scares you or people say you're crazy.
Believe it or not, that's deep water and it's where our joy lives. Deciding what you can do (and what you want to do) to love God and serve others, then actioning it, is how you make your life matter.
So if your faith feels a little too tailored for your comfort, and you want to step out into the deep water like Peter did, book a call with us and we'll show you how.
The call is free and I promise it will be the best 45 minutes you've ever spent talking about your life with a stranger.
ps. Oh and for sure watch A.D. It's so good. Here's a link.
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