What was most important to the early Christians of the first few centuries?
Of course, the whole life of Jesus had significance for them. But it was mainly His passion and resurrection that were of utmost importance.
The Jews were waiting for a Messiah who was expected to arrive with pomp and splendor and have authority and power to deliver the nation of Israel from any and all oppressors. The suffering Son of Man was a scandal.
But Jesus accepted the scandal and, by going to the cross, revealed God’s plan for suffering, humility and service to be the way to glory. So, from the earliest of days the church accepted the cross and death of Jesus to be the cornerstone of what it meant to be a Christian.
Here is what we must learn from them: only when Christians are “weak” can they be really strong (2 Corinthians 12); only when we are willing to confess our incapacity can God’s capacity be ours; only when we are willing to lose our soul can we truly live.
In my reading for today, I picked up volume 1 of a three volume set on the history of Christian spirituality. In other words, what fundamentals did the early Christians build their lives on?
I learned that the priority of Christ’s death and resurrection in their lives, as their understanding of the Christian life, prepared them for what lay ahead of them… the laying down of their lives in times of severe persecution.
I believe that persecution of various kinds lies ahead of the American Church. I am convinced that how we view the essence of spirituality will determine if we are ready.