Posted by Craig Borlase on 4 September 2014

One flick, one push, one breath of air is all it takes and the domino tumbles. That’s the way it is with our potential; it can be unleashed so easily.

There was a time when the church was in trouble. Numbers were low, the ruling powers were hostile and its members seemed to only come to public attention when they were being ritually humiliated by hostile watching crowds calling for their blood.

And although this was way back in the first few centuries that followed the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the days of the early church are as relevant to us today as they have been at any point in history.

Why? In spite of – or perhaps because of – those limited numbers, oppression and abuse, the first few generations of Christians found just what happens when faith and action combine and form this potential-soaked thing we call ‘church’, when Christianity becomes something that truly is ‘to die for’, when we release our potential from the realm of theoretical daydreams and untested possibilities. They found out what happened when they toppled the first domino.

That potential got released in clear ways. It wasn’t through great public worship meetings, clever campaigns or even seeker-friendly services. It was largely down to the way they chose to live. They buried the dead, welcomed the outcast and shared with anyone who was in need. They put flesh and bones and words and deeds onto the concept of church. They challenged the common belief that death was the end of the affair, celebrating the anniversary of a martyr’s death at his graveside with feasts of bread, olives and wine and shouts of ‘Vibas!’ (Live!)

And it worked. By the end of the first century the global church contained as many as one million Christians spread across the Roman empire, organised, acting and worshipping together in a whirlwind of holy revolution. A couple of centuries later estimates suggest that between five and twenty-five per cent of the Empire’s population proclaimed their Christian faith.

The point of all this? We’re not calling for a return to togas and lunches with lions. But if we believe that we’re powerless to change the world around us, we should think again. We should remember the lessons from the early church and see that when we come together as Christians and unite to spark change, then transformation is never far off.

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