Albert E. Farley
How was the early church perceived in the eyes of the people among whom it lived and of whom it sought to teach and to make disciples for Christ? When Paul finally went to Rome, he went as a prisoner. Acts 28. He called the Jewish leaders together to tell them of his conversion and hope in the church. They said, “… for as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” 28:22. At first, the new church “had favor with all the people” (2:47). However, we learn two things from the book of Acts about this church that Christ built and purchased with His own blood upon the cross: (1) It was falsely labeled and accused and (2) it was strongly opposed. 5:18; 7:59; 8:4; 12:2; 14:1-6, 8-20; 16:19-21; 17:1-5, 16-19; 19:23-41.
How is the church perceived today in the eyes of the people among whom we live and of whom we seek to teach and to make disciples for Christ? Things have not changed. When the world learns who we are and what we believe and teach, we are called a “sect” – a “sick denomination” – and we are everywhere spoken against.
This ought not to cause us to be discouraged. Jesus said we are blessed when men revile and persecute us and say all manner of evil against us, falsely, for His sake. We are to rejoice and be exceeding glad; our reward will be great in heaven. This is how they persecuted the prophets before us! Matthew 5:10-12. Sadly, some members of the church today are seeking to change the world’s perception of us by change and compromise. They reason: “If we change and become more like the world, the more the world will like us.” This, of course, is destructive. They are forgetting the words of Jesus: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” John 15:18, 19.
Dear friends, let us not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1, 2. Our circulation last month was 2,826. We do rejoice. –Albert.
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