"Christ preached the kingdom of God, and the Church appeared instead!"
Ecclesia, biblical (Greek), a secular word, meaning a political gathering, or meeting, of free citizens, elected or called-out ones, to seek the welfare of the neighbourhood came to be used to describe the meeting of the followers of the Way.
Earliest Christians sought welfare of their own people, witnessing through the life of their household communities (churches), to the values learned through the Apostles and evangelists - subversive values very much at odds with the general customs of family life and relationships at that time.
Early Christian communities were inclusive, accepting of all who wished to join, male or female, Jew of Gentile, Slave or Free, whatever the risks.
Constantine, in the 4th century, gave the Church responsibility for maintaining law and order, social behaviour and allegiance to the Roman Emperor - the new Christendom: institutionalised religion.
Under the lordship of Jesus Christ, rather than the Emperor, Christians sought the welfare of the community in which they were set. They were often paroikoi, people who were foreigners (immigrants), without citizenship or civil rights, especially as Christianity spread around the Mediterranean.
The parochial church of today, is called to the same task, "the gathering of called-out ones who, in the name of Jesus Christ, seek the welfare of the strangers who dwell alongside." (Peter Price)
Being Church, following Jesus, was therefore seen as being prepared to give one's life to make a difference in the world in which one lives, most usually in one's neighbourhood or workplace.
For many, this appears to be a new way of being Church.
|© New Way of Being Church 2007|