For the Christian, nothing is so embarrassing as to examine one’s life in the light of first century Christianity. our shortcomings are obvious! Even a casual reading of the book of Acts reveals that things are not the same. Granted, everything shouldn’t be the same–that was a different day. But when it comes to personal devotion, strength of character, compassion for the lost, courage to stand, etc. those early disciples serve as an example for us, and we are way off course!
In that holy record of history we are amazed at what we read. Think about it. That early church was composed of poor, uneducated men who had no unusual talents. They were plain, ordinary, common men, not of the upper crust of society. They had no political clout, rich supporters or financial reserves. Nor were they great orators. Add to that the fact that they lived in a hostile environment and you wonder how they survived, let alone thrived. Yet, without the aid of TV, radio, printing presses, beautiful buildings, etc. their number grew daily. Thousands were saved and added to the church. Although hated by the majority, that church was the talk of the town.
So why do we struggle so? We’ve got so much more going for us, why do we reach so few? Why are our numbers decreasing rather than increasing? We could make an argument for it being due to a lack of effort, there is some truth to that, but that’s not the main difference. The early church grew because “the Lord added to the church” (Acts 2:47). In other words, it was what God did, not what they did that made the difference. That gets overlooked today.
Modern churches depend too much on what man can do, rather than God. We tend to think that we can be successful if we just do the right things. We suppose a bigger and better staff could get the job done. Or maybe it’s time for a fresh face in the pulpit–a younger preacher that identifies with the younger crowd. Maybe a new program, something with a catchy name will turn things around. Or maybe it’s time to tear the old building down and build something that will attract a lot of attention. The list could go on and on, but none of these things ever get to the heart of the matter. There are churches all across the nation that have all these things and more, and they are still failing to win the lost. The truth of the matter is what Jesus said in John 15:5– ” without me ye can do nothing”.
There’s an old song that puts it all in perspective by saying,”all is vain unless the Spirit”. Exactly! Why can’t we see it? We are like helpless little babes trying to do something that is far beyond our ability. “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it–“(Psalm 127:1). It was “the Lord working with them”(Mark 16:20) that made them successful.He will work with us also, if we meet His conditions. Don’t dare blame God for our failures. Don’t accuse Him of being unable or unwilling. If we would do things His way He would do “great and mighty things” as He promised. All the failures belong to us and all the successes to Him.
If we would repent sincerely, pray earnestly, feed on the Word daily, witness boldly, give generously, forgive freely, surrender fully’ and serve joyfully, there is no telling what great things God would do. We would be amazed. The problem is we don’t and God won’t until we do. Think about it!