The first-century church was a great model for us to follow in many respects, but it was far from perfect. God used imperfect people to fulfill his purposes.
Hayden Davison said during his message on Sunday, Oct. 6 that we can learn not just from the good examples of the early church but also from its dysfunction.
Here are key points from Hayden’s message, which is part of the “You Are Now Here” sermon series:
*Nostalgia is a reflection back to a happier time, when things seemed to be better. But with nostalgia comes “rosy retrospection,” which means we tend to view things with rose colored glasses and only focus on the good. We have that tendency when we view the early church, and yet there was dissension, disagreement and conflict among believers.
*In Galatians 2: 11-14, Acts 6 and 3 John 9:10 we find examples of early church members not getting along. Peter and Paul had some major disagreements. Paul and Barnabas couldn’t work with each other. So everything wasn’t rosy in the first-century church. They were human and flawed, just like people in the modern-day church.
*Despite the brokenness we see in the early church, there are lessons we can learn (1 Thessalonians 5:14) in how to deal with imperfect people (ourselves included):
-Admonish, which means to express warning or disapproval in a gentle and earnest manner. It should be done out of love.
-Bolster, which means to brace or support, with love. When someone is hurting, we should come alongside, encourage and embrace each other in the love of Christ.
-Calm, which means free of agitation or strong emotion. When people wrong us, or tensions rise, or arguments ensue, we are called to not bring extra stress into the situation.
*The first-century church was not perfect. The church today is not perfect. Mankind is not perfect. God works through flawed people anyway.
*We shouldn’t harken back to the past as “the good old days.” But we shouldn’t ignore the past either. The past should inform us now in the present. We can look back to see how things were handled when it got tough, and what was done to make things right again.
*John Calvin said: “Wherever we see the word of God purely preached and heard, there a church of God exists, even if it swarms with many faults."
*Hayden showed a picture of a church in Germany that was destroyed, but then showed another picture of how the church was rebuilt into a beautiful structure, with pieces of the old building used as part of the foundation. Despite the scars, troubles and hurts we experience in the church, it can still be transformed into something beautiful by God.