6 August 2019

Psalm 2, Colossians 3:1–17, Acts 11:19–26

One of the blessings and one of the curses of being American is the freedom to decide who we are. One of the biggest struggles between immigrants and their children is the change of identity. As much as most immigrants truly seek to join their new country, there are things that just don’t work for them. Their children walk the line between new and old, along with all the stress that goes along with that (think differences over worship music but over everything).

The church was that second generation, and then some. A way to think of it is the child of a Tibetan immigrant and the child of an Argentinian getting married. The strains of their parents’ cultures, plus their new adopted (American) culture, plus the different culture of their spouse. That was the church.

The “children” of Judaism, Greece, Asia Minor, Rome were, by-and-large, no longer part of their “native” culture, and could not really be part of a “different” culture. The Followers of the Way (the name prior to Christian) were following a weaving and winding path between multiple cultures, nations, and languages. They lived in between. Even their identity as “Followers of the Way” was still deeply tied to Judaism, so even that was not particularly solid.

The key to identity was made in Antioch. Only God knows who coined the term Christians. They could have been called Nazarenes, but Christians became the label. Even with a “formal” label, it still took years, and even today it seems that while the label is active, there is not a unified Christian culture. If there were a truly united Christian culture, the hour on Sunday would not be the most segregated hour of the week. If there were a truly united Christian culture, Facebook, Twitter, and other places wouldn’t be in the state they are in.

If the church were united, as Christ calls us to be, we really could be the healer for a culture and country in pain. Instead, we are just as miserable, angry, bitter, and pained as everyone else. We are not perfect, we just need to be better in how we treat people especially fellow Christians for it starts “at home”.

1) As people are quick to jump on bandwagons, praying for the hurting (good), questioning violence (good), discussing freedom (good), trying to be the light (good), be even quicker to pray and discern prior to posting. What witness are you presenting to your fellow Christian? How about the world?

2) As the country, and world, seems to be tearing apart, we Christians are still to be Followers of the Way, winding our way between people, cultures, and perspectives. What skills and practices do you need to develop to be better walking on the Way?

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand,
and the rulers conspire together
against the LORD and his Anointed One,
Let’s tear off their chains
and throw their ropes off of us.
—Psalm 2:1–3