Primitive Christianity

I recently took a trip to Asia with a group of committed believers who are zealous for what God is doing in that part of the world. We were able to connect with some extraordinary believers.

I had traveled many times before but had forgotten how glaringly different American Christianity is from the rest of the world.  In a wordless manner, we can mistakenly assume that our brand of Christianity is superior to all others – That we are the center of gravity –  the template everyone should use, and that we need to help “these poor under-developed”  Churches “catch up to us”.  I’ll admit I felt a stab of smugness for a brief moment that quickly vanished when I worshipped with these precious people. Something immediately stood out as obvious as the proverbial nose on our faces. The cold and apparent fact that we in America have lost something that “primitive” churches have:  Pure, unrelenting passion for God – a primal abandon that was seen in old Christian revivals our culture – a fire that went beyond tents and buildings and into the cultural ethos . . . Passion was “the status quo”, and indifference the exception.  This is what I witnessed on every level – a profound love for believer and unbeliever alike – A clear consciousness that we are connected to a narrative that surpasses our four walls and infuses every sphere of life – A movement that locates its identity in God, not culture.

I am convinced that we need to return to primitive Christianity. When I say primitive I am not suggesting we digress into inquisitions, crusades, or witch-burning – Or that we move to the wilderness and build a log cabin with no electricity.  I’m suggesting that we return to the kind of purity and naiveté that can be found at the inception of any mass movement.  Every group, whether good or bad, began with a simple passion to change the world, and their daily lives reflected it.

Throughout history, Christian groups who began as simple and pure always descended into sophistication and complexity, inevitability edging out God in the process.

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning,
your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion
to Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:3

Simple devotion always tends to become convoluted as we grow away from the revelation that birthed us. Movements become managed into carefully honed organizations. Even though they issue passionate calls to return to their original purpose, they become like one of Narnia’s victims turned to stone by the White Witch – monuments of what they once were.

These precious cultures do not need our help in making their churches run like a finely tuned business; we need their help in reminding us of who we once were.