From Genesis to Acts to Today
We have been working through the Acts of the Apostles, both in worship and in Tuesday Bible Study. Acts is the last “historical” in the Bible, after Acts there are the Epistles (letters) and Revelation (apocalyptic poetry). Yes, there are references to historical events in the books that follow Acts, but they are references without the narrative. Acts draws to a close the story that opens with, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” with, “[Paul] proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!”
The story of the Bible is one of a Creator reaching out to the created, and the created’s struggle with itself in maintaining that relationship. Like the famous image of God reaching out to Adam on the Sistine Chapel. God appears to be straining while Adam seems almost indifferent. In the beginning God was a direct force in the lives of all the people, then in only the few who still followed God. God establishes a kingdom in which God rules from the Tabernacle and through a Law handed down, but the people choose to have human king instead. Again and again humans choose their own power and authority over God’s, to the point that they reject the son of the Master (Lk 20:9-19).
At the end of the Biblical Narrative you have Paul living in the center of human, worldly power, preaching that soon this path will double back to return to the Kingdom Of God that was always meant to be. It is both a low and high point. Christianity has made it to Rome, Peter and Paul will preach here and it will eventually become an accepted religion. But it will also take on the trappings of Rome. The hierarchy, architecture, rules, and eventually the authority and corruption. Paul preached the Kingdom of God is near, and humans decided they were in charge of it.
We still struggle with this, our faith is tugged and warped by the wants of our egos and our society. Our Anabaptist ancestors so feared this influence that they forbid members from being involved with the power of the state. I don’t believe that is necessarily the correct answer for us, we are in a different position than they were and our voices are needed. But as we live in this world, speak and live the Gospel and the Kingdom with boldness and without hinderance and place the teachings of Jesus before ego and society. We will always be shaped by the world around us, for better and worse. But let us not give into it and instead keep our focus on His Way. Let’s Continue the Work of Jesus, Peacefully, Simply, Together.