SICK AND STUPID CULTURE
"He went on in this vein for a long time, urging them over and over, 'Get out while you can: get out of this sick and stupid culture.' That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptised and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal and the prayers." Acts 2:40-42 (The Message).
"Sick and stupid culture"! That's a good way to describe my culture, your culture, any culture that leaves Jesus out of the mix. It doesn't matter where we live in the world; every culture is underpinned by the same characteristics that entered the world with Adam's declaration of independence from God.
Adam exchanged family oneness for aggression and alienation towards God, his Father and his fellow man, leaving him orphaned and abandoned. He exchanged generosity of spirit for greed and selfishness, making him even more alienated from other people and lonely. He exchanged fellowship with the Father for man-made religions which leave him empty, frustrated and fearful.
Put these together and you have a multiplicity of cultures that are nothing but "sick and stupid". Wrap them up in religious systems that have no foundation in fact or reality, that have absurd belief systems and practices and that never bring us back to our source in God our Father. Adam's choice was stupid and left every descendant in every generation sick.
Notice the first evidence of the restoration that happened when the people who had murdered Jesus realised what they had done and came back to God in humble repentance and confession. They devoted themselves to four things that were a radical reversal of their old culture and a powerful witness to the change that had taken place within their hearts.
1. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles. For the first time on their lives they were open to receiving the truth. Jesus had promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would lead them into all truth. He entrusted to them the responsibility of interpreting the events of His life and death under inspiration of the Spirit and passing it on to His followers. It was the knowledge of the truth that would set them free from all the nonsense they had ever believed and practised in their ignorance.
2. They did life together. Their new-found faith in the Messiah bound them together in the unity that God intended from the beginning, restoring the family bond and drawing them to each other so that they loved, shared and cared for one another in such a powerfully visible way that outsiders noticed and were impressed.
3. They ate together - another powerful symbol of their new culture. Instead of living in alienation from each other, they were reconciled. They buried their personal issues and demonstrated their reconciliation by sharing their meals. In the culture of the Middle East, you did not eat with an enemy.
4. They fellowshipped together with the Father in the set prayers of their Jewish faith. The prayers of their Scriptures, which they had prayed as a habit, became the heart of their fellowship with God and with each other.
What a beautiful description of their new faith and their new life! Everything lost in Adam was regained in Christ. How simple compared with the complicated religion much of what is called "Christianity" has become today! Just imagine the impact the church could have if it truly abandoned the sick and stupid culture of the world and adopted the pattern set by these early believers.
They got it right. Why can't we?