Did you know that the early believers of the first century were often called The Way?1 Did you ever wonder why? What is the Way? Yahshua said He was the Way, the Truth and the Life, so if we walk as He and His disciples walked, and live as they lived, how would that look? So please consider, what is the Way? A seldom-discussed verse in Christian churches is Genesis 18:19.
For I have known him [Abraham], that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the Way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him. (Genesis 18:19)
The early believers considered Abraham to be the father of their faith,2 and Yahshua made it very clear to the Jewish religious leaders of His day that if they wanted to call Abraham their father then they would have to do the deeds of Abraham3 -- that is, command their children and their household after them to keep the Way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice. He said this to them because of their callous disregard of their poor brothers, which He vividly exposed in the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus.4
God has always had it on His heart that there would be no rich or poor among His people.5 To truly accomplish this requires a certain environment -- community. How can you "encourage one another daily"6 unless you are together? You have to live together, eat together, work together, and worship together in order to have the same care one for another.7 This is the environment that love creates, for love brings people together.
All who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all as any had need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Act 2:44-47)
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common... There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. (Act 4:32-35)
The Gospel proclaimed by Yahshua and His apostles (who were commanded to teach others all they had been taught by Him8), caused a radical response in the hearts of those who heard it, which you can read about in the Book of Acts. What they did with their lives after being "cut to the heart" by the words they heard created a place for others to come into as well. As "the Lord added daily to those who were being saved" many more communities were formed.
Did you know that most of the letters of the New Testament were written to churches (communities) where the disciples lived together in the same way as the community in Jerusalem?9 This vibrant and social way of life was to be the pattern for how the church was to be established in every place. And it surely would be if God's love were truly poured out in the hearts of those who believed. It is only in this environment, where all give all, that the call to "do justice and righteousness" can be fulfilled.
For the love of Messiah controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh [i.e., according to one's natural inclinations]. (2 Corinthians 5:14-16)
No longer living for yourself means that you don't just decide to "do your own thing," because you know your friends need you. You are an essential part in building up the Body of Messiah. If the quarterback just decided to leave the field during the game, his team would lose. Paul said, "Your life is hidden in Messiah"10 -- your life is not your own. That means you are vitally connected to your fellow believers and you submit to one another so as to receive direction for your life.11
Living for others may mean that your "works of service" include getting up early to help cook breakfast for your friends, or staying up late to paint the hallway, or to clean the kitchen so the place where you all live stays nice and clean. Or even though you're very tired, your sleep-denying concern for others compels you to talk with a needy brother late into the night.
So the Good News is meant to establish an actual place where disciples can truly keep their Master's commands to love one another as He loved them.12 This is the way the Way was when it was called The Way in the first century.13
Sadly, compromise set in, selfishness reared its ugly head, and the life of togetherness dwindled away. Eventually, instead of being the church, people started going to church. As you can see, today's churches bear no resemblance to that early way of life.
Thankfully, God is restoring this way of life on the earth! The original gospel has been restored, and it is producing the same love, resulting in the same life, which you can see for yourself in many places all over the earth. They are listed on the address pages in the back of this paper. We have been living this way for over 40 years. There are actual places where you can learn (for disciple means learner) how to no longer live for yourself. Yahshua himself said that the greatest in the Kingdom would be the servant of all. If you have a heart to live for Him (which translates into a heart to live for others who have His Spirit), then come to one of these places. Our hearts and our homes are always open. You can come for a day or to stay -- forever! We hope to see you soon.