09 April, 2010

Look at All the Colors in Antioch!

Many people think of Christianity as a Western religion. They see Europe in the middle ages and they say, "That was the church." Or they see the Protestant Reformation and the mission movement to the Americas and they think, "More Western thinking." People rarely see Christianity as the international, intercontinental, interracial, intercultural phenomenon that God intended it to be. Remember that Christ called his Church to go into all the world; not just the western world.

When we think about the early church, this Western mentality was not present. The Church knew that she was an international, continental, racial, cultural force that was being driven by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, which declared that there was neither Jew nor Greek, but we are all one in Christ. Look at the urban ministry that flowed from Antioch. James Boice notes, "The church at Antioch, which backed Paul on his missionary journeys.... had as its leaders Barnabas, who was a Jew from Cyprus; Simeon, a black man; Lucius, who was probably a Roman, from Cyrene; Manaen, an aristocrat who had been raised with Herod the tetrarch; and Saul, the Jewish teacher from Tarsus. What a collection!" (Romans, p.1820)

So next time someone tells you that they are not interested in Christianity because it is a way for the west to show supremacy or to oppress, or whatever other excuse they make to despise Christ's Church- remember God's intention and how he modeled that intention in his early leadership.

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