I have just embarked on a reflective study of the book of Acts. One of the older commentaries excited me as I read the first page.
“It shows the Church in birth and being, and in experiment and action, as devoted minds sought after and apprehended truth, shaping policy and purpose in the process. It reveals the growing vitality of the Christian faith as it outgrew prejudice and limitation, and moving out in the strength of indomitable faith to reach the nations with their story……it also tells of other men, for they were not dead who had misconceived the ministry of Christ and failed to see the truth which lay in centuries of Scripture. Pride and prejudice, and the preconceptions of nationalism not only attacked the new society, but penetrated it, and sought to confine and to constrict its purpose.” (E. M. Blaiklock)
There was much in these few words that resonated with me as I reflect on the growing numbers of Muslims who are choosing to follow Jesus and joining his church here in the UK and beyond. What sort of church are we to be? For me it raises a number of questions.
As we welcome new believers from a Muslim background are we fixated on ways that have remained unchanged for years? Or are we open to new ideas and possibilities that they bring?
Are we prepared to receive insights from these new believers, even as they begin to embark on their journey with Christ? For surely the Eastern patterns and culture are more Biblically sensitive than ours.
Are we inviting them to integrate with us, whilst actually expecting them to assimilate, a much less tasteful recipe?
As God blesses and brings people from all sorts of cultures and backgrounds, can we in fact become again the dynamic, flexible, courageous, fluid, responsive church of that early period? Or are we simply stuck?
It is easy to ask the questions. It is harder to give practical, concrete answers. But I hope that you and I will long to be part of the church that “outgrew prejudice and limitation” rather than those who “sought to confine and to constrict its purpose.”
Written by Tom Walsh