“We can glimpse it in the book of Acts: the method of the kingdom will match the message of the kingdom. The kingdom…goes out into the world vulnerable, suffering, praising, praying, misunderstood, misjudged, vindicated, celebrating: always – as Paul puts it in one of his letters – bearing in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed.” -NT Wright in Surprised by Hope
We’ve been reading through the book of Acts at our Circle of Hope congregation in South Jersey and this time through I am struck by how ordinary these people are. The Body of Christ is not full of supernatural healers. There are some of those but most of the people in Acts are “regular” folks with no miracles attached to them, and there are at least 60 individual believers identified by Luke in the book of Acts and countless others who get lumped in as “the brothers”, “those who believed”, or “the churches.” Only a few are identified as performing miracles or hearing directly from God in a vision or audible voice, and yet they all became part of the movement.
The movement is the biggest miracle of them all. The body of Christ despite it’s vulnerability, suffering, misunderstanding and misjudgment (as NT Wright so eloquently describes it) is a thriving, growing thing. The fact that it transcended those boundaries so rapidly then and continued to exist throughout centuries of abuse and mud dragging by counterfeit leaders is a marvel.
And Circle of Hope is a marvel too. We can say with confidence that our method matches our message. If you get into our meetings, either on Sundays or in cells throughout the week, you will be around Jesus because Jesus is alive among us.
“Wait a second!” you might say, “I’m not so sure your confidence is warranted. I don’t feel like I’m that great of a Christian. I doubt. I sin. I’m not putting myself out there like that.”
“Agreed,” I would respond. You’re not being put out there. Jesus is.
“Yeah, but if Jesus were really alive among us like you say, shouldn’t we see the fruit of that? I don’t see anyone getting healed. Where’s our Peter? Where’s our Paul?”
“We have our own miracles! Comparisons are odious! Peter and Paul were two of 60+. That’s 3% healers on the record. We narrow our focus and we miss the wonder around us. God is alive. There is new faith. Others will find new faith among us too.”
Putting ourselves out there like that is strangely difficult. Because we are involved, we super-impose our modesty on Jesus. God chose us for the task of revealing his love to the world and we know how poorly we love, and how poorly we are loved by others. Can God really use us? The answer is yes. As ordinary as we are (and our movement has always been)–as broken as we are (and our people have always been)–as needy as we are (which has always been the point of it all)– God uses us. God is with us. We are the Body of Christ and Jesus lives in us.
Say that out loud. Say it to someone else if you dare. Practice that sincerity and trust. I think Jesus will prove himself to you.