In 1985, while I was in the ninth grade, the nation was in a buzz about the newest Michael J. Fox movie, Back to the Future. I never paid much attention to the movie, as the only part of it that every really interested me was the amazingly beautiful Lea Thompson. What can I say? I was in the ninth grade. It was fairly dumb movie, in my opinion….the whole helping-your-mom-to-love-your-dad-instead-of-loving-you thing just seemed a tad creepy to me. I wasn’t interested in it, except for the amazingly beautiful Lea Thompson. Oh, I already mentioned that. Moving on.
While it is impossible to go back to the future, maybe it is possible to reach the future by going back to the past. That sentiment is the heartbeat of Redeemer Church. We want to reach the future by looking to the past. Two thousand years into the past, to be precise. We want to return to the mindset of the church as it existed on day one. Our model is found in Acts 2:40-47, where the church is formed at the conclusion of the first apostolic sermon.
In seminary, I was always bothered by the “evolution” of the New Testament Church of our day back into an Old Testament temple model that often looks nothing like the church of Acts 2. I was even more bothered by why no one could (or would even try to) explain to me what I perceived to be such a denigration. I realize that man is incurably religious, and I attribute that to the reality that human beings have been created imago Dei. The image of God in us, though defiled, makes us empty without Him. We need to worship. So, we build a temple. People come to the temple, pay homage, and then go right on with their lives. That’s what they did in the Old Testament. That’s largely what’s done today.
That isn’t the church God built in Acts 2. Rather, He built a people, and indwelled them with power, glory, and beauty. It was much more a community than a cathedral! The first church wasn’t a place to go – it was something to be. It changed the world two thousand years ago. And I believe it can still change the world today!
The Acts 2 model had three characteristics that we will diligently pursue at Redeemer. Those three characteristics can be further divided into ten marks:
1. It was DRIVEN by the power of God’s Word (v40-42)
There was inspiration (40), Confrontation (40), and Invitation (41)
2. It was DOMINATED by the presence of God’s Spirit (43-45)
There was fear (43), friendliness (44), and family (45)
3. It was DISTINGUISHED by the participation of God’s People (v46-47)
There was intimacy (46), intensity (46), influence (47), and increase (47)
At Redeemer, we will seek to emulate these three characteristics and evaluate our ministry by these ten marks. As a dear pastor friend of mine says, “We want to be a first century church in a twenty-first century world!”
Almost three weeks to the day before he was assassinated, President John F. Kennedy made this statement: “Most presidents leave office feeling their work is unfinished. I’ve got a lot to do and little time remaining.” At the time, no one in the world understood how prophetic his statement really was. He didn’t have much time left. At age 43, I am beginning to understand his sentiment. We don’t have forever. We only have today. That’s why it is so very important that we give our lives wholly to that which we love. For me, I love the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though it is not always easy, though the world may persecute, slander and malign, though it may cost me everything, I choose to give what time I have left in this world to serve Christ and prepare His Bride, the Church, for His coming.