Everything went well, except for the one day that Pastor Ken pulled a Marty McFly and got left back in the first century. (It was amazing the coincidence, since I also had to be with my wife that day for some medical tests.) Still, many of the kids were very concerned for me, though there was talk that some immediately formed a pastor search committee to begin looking for my replacement. Most were happy I made it back to the future…or present…for Thursday night’s Family Night.
From Mr. Peabody’s “Way-back Machine” (on Bullwinkle cartoons), to Doc Brown’s DeLorean, to Bill and Ted’s phone booth, there’s always been a fascination with time travel. Science fiction writer Jules Verne wrote of it, and even Napoleon Dynamite gave it a shot, though it didn’t work out so well for him (or his Uncle Rico).
Our kids have had a blast with the whole concept this week, and our VBS leaders and staff did a great job planning a fun and creative idea that filtered itself into every area of our Bible School, including our ancient Greek crafts, our Olympic style recreation games and our first-hand Bible stories. It’s been a fun week.
It did make me wonder, however, in a “what if” sort of way. What if we could be transported to life in the first century? How would our faith measure up with those who walked with Jesus? Would we be willing to pay the price for our following Christ as those early disciples did? Would we recognize “church” in its simple embryonic form, before all the layers of man-made religion and tradition have been added over the last twenty centuries?
On the flip side, what if someone like the apostle Paul fell into a loophole of time and found his way to Calera, Alabama in 2013? Would he recognize “church” as the same vibrant community it was in his day? Would he understand our busy lifestyles and mixed-up priorities? Our modern world notwithstanding, do our hearts still reflect the same commitment to Jesus that Paul and his fellow Christ-followers of old shared?
My hope and prayer is that the lives we live and the ministries we carry out at Shelby Crossings would look a lot like first-century Christianity even in our 21st-century world. No doubt, much has changed in our world over the past two millennia, but the Biblical picture of church life prescribed in God’s word still works. New Testament Christianity is, ultimately, about relationships and not religion–our relationship with God, through Christ, and our relationships with one another.
I’m so very thankful to be a part of such a great church, especially in a week like this when we see so many faithful servants of the Lord give of their time and efforts to share the gospel and love of Christ with the families of our community. I am praying for you, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.