Once... a long time ago there was a group of people who loved one another...
Among that group, a few had been fishermen, a few had been farmers, a couple had worked for the government, and the rest had done a lot of different things. With the great love they had, they decided to live as close to one another as they possibly could. To do this, the ones with property and possessions sold what they had and brought the proceeds of the sales to the leaders of the group to be shared with those who had need. Not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. They lived together, worked together. There was not a needy person among them.
Who were these people? Were they German Marxists, Communist revolutionaries, or hippie idealists? No, they were the first community in Jerusalem, followers of the Son of God, the Messiah, and His teachings. Their great love for one another, and their great zeal, had brought them together to become a New Israel. They were determined to grow into a new nation of people who truly loved one another from the heart. All the old barriers separating people had been broken down in their midst. Their life together was the beginning of a new society that quickly grew and spread in many different localities. Wherever they lived, they copied as closely as possible the pattern that had been set in Jerusalem, loving one another in the same way as those who had first begun. But there was also much difficulty and persecution.
A lot changed in the short span of forty or fifty years. We don’t know exactly what happened, but we do know that they fell away from their first love for their Savior, and lost their undying love for one another. Eventually, the little communities died. They still met together, but their love had grown cold.
When they came together and talked about Messiah, it was not the same. And there was no one left to tell them what it should be like. Once it had been a community of love, the beginning of a twelve-tribed nation, Israel. Now there was none, because the Spirit of Messiah was no longer leading them...
The little groups grew stiff and formal. Rules multiplied. Arguments and intellectual debates filled the air. Leaders put on robes and rituals began. Ceremonies were repeated year after year. Although the life was gone, the form continued in all its deadness. Perhaps you have experienced a part of that deadness in a church somewhere.
When the first communities failed, Christianity began. The Son of God did not start it. Neither did His true followers, who clung to His words and obeyed His teachings. The decay and corruption were never meant to be there. We were never meant to go to a building once a week and sit there, bored out of our minds. We were never meant to have to endure that or have that emptiness fill our souls with apathy. God never intended it to be that way.
Just imagine what you would do if you heard this for the first time from someone brimming over with life. What if someone told you that the Creator of the universe sent His own Son to the earth to become a man and die in your place for your sins? And because of this, you could be forgiven and washed of all your guilt.
You could be reunited to your Creator who gives eternal life, and be part of His eternal purpose — the restoration of the universe. What would you do if you heard that? Would you rejoice and be glad? Would you cling to the one who told you that? I would. Wouldn’t you?