Early Christians were not called Christians. They were called followers of The Way, referring to living their daily lives according to the way Jesus taught.
If you read one of the earlies non-biblical texts called The Didache, which explains what the first Christians believed, or if you read St. Justin Martyr’s First Apology, defending the faith of the first Christians, you will find that we, as Christians 2000 years later, may have lost The Way.
Early Christians opposed abortion. Period. It’s written plainly in the Didache. They also not only opposed violence, but even refused to look at it, like at gladiator games or other rituals of the time.
Today abortion has turned into some wicked “reproductive right.” As for violence, well, just look at our entertainment. It appears we are content viewing violence for fun.
Early Christians took everything Jesus said as literal. We, over time, have conveniently forgotten some of his teachings that are inconvenient.
- Early Christians literally forgave their enemies.
- They literally prayed for their enemies.
- They literally believed that thoughts of lust equaled adultery.
- They literally believed that marrying after divorce was adultery.
- They believed that they should give their clothes or food or money to those who need it, at the expense of their own comfort.
- They literally believed that they should love God above all things and avoid any temptation to worship other idols.
We, today, quite arrogantly believe that we are better, more intelligent and some how superior to those people during Christ’s time on earth. That we have matured, outgrown these simple moral commands.
We’re wrong. Human nature is human nature. Our basic, initial response to stimuli as a species has not changed since our creation. When we’re hungry, we want to eat. When we’re angry, we want to strike. When we lust, we want to mate.
Jesus wasn’t teaching to humans 2000 years ago. He was teaching to humanity, for as long as we exist.
All of the lessons and teachings Jesus gave over 2000 years ago, ALL OF THEM, apply to us today, completely and without debate.
- Jesus warned us to be wary of what our eyes see because it can effect us. How many of us avoid near occasions of sin with our eyes?
- He warned us that our hearts are what lead us astray. How many of us indulge in the whims of the heart instead of using divine wisdom to guide it?
- He warned us against being hypocritical, but how many of us say one thing and do another?
To put it simply, followers of The Way listened and, most importantly, they OBEYED. The result was living life different than everyone else. It set them apart. It made them targets of scorn, imprisonment and even death.
How many of us live differently than our neighbor? How many of us are obedient to Jesus’ teachings, even the ones that interfere with our lives?
If Jesus were to come to us today, would we stand out so differently from society for living The Way?
I fear I would not, nor would most of my Christian brethren.