Over the past few years, we have seen what was called conservative Christianity on the front pages of the news coverages, but it displayed behavior, attitude, or views that the Bible described as old ways of sin that we are to leave behind if we follow in Jesus. They demonstrated hate, discrimination, jealousy, idol worship, lying, treachery, violence, and much more.
As I have examined it, the fundamental problem of Conservative Christianity, and why I am not one, is that it is a selfish religion. The focus of conservatism taught at the seminary I attended, which I did not agree with at all, is that the purpose of the Christian religion is to avoid going to hell. The conversion prayer of conservative Christianity is to get their entrance ticket to heaven. Their focus is their own salvation from hell, but that religion would be strange idol worship to Jesus. In this case, the idol is the self.
In Acts, we see that the purpose of faith is for service, not for our personal gain. The apostles were too busy to adapt their new religion to the new world; they decided that a new group of leaders was needed to ensure that sharing resources were just and equitable. Being of Jewish origin, the disciples took care of the Hebrew Christian widows, but they did not show the same concern for the Gentile widows. While this may have been inadvertent, because they followed their culture of taking care of “their” people from the Old Testament, they were not following the new ethics of the new religion of Jesus.
The purpose of faith in the new religion of Jesus is to enable us to serve others. Faith is not to carry a label of “Christian” or claim that we have a ticket to heaven, but it is to build us up to serve others. The early Church ordained a group of people they deemed to be “full of faith” to be deacons to take care of every widow, regardless of their racial heritage. The qualification for service was faith.
Faith for the people of the early Church was for the privilege of serving the most vulnerable of their community. To be a Hellenistic widow meant that they were considered “outsiders” in Israel, and most likely, they did not have any other family in the area, which meant no one to help them. They were alone and without any means of providing for themselves. An example of this would have been Rahab, who was sent out from the house of Abraham. When the food and water ran out, all she could do was ask God to be compassionate and spare her from having to see her only son die.
The early Church leaders realized that the new religion of Jesus accepted all people. Everyone was equally created in the image of God, and God did not show partiality to any one group. God’s love was the same for Jews and Greeks. This new religion of Jesus did not show favoritism toward the Jewish widows but treated all widows, Jews or Greeks, alike.
The purpose of faith is to enable us to serve others and does not support selfish and self-center conservative Christianism. Let us be the progressive biblical Christian reflecting the religion of Jesus. Let us build up our faith so we may serve others. This Sunday, we will discuss how the early Christian Church lived out its call to grow in faith in Jesus.