I recently came across a book that has become a welcome addition to my library, J.B. Phillips’ The Young Church in Action. This book, published in 1955, is a translation of the Book of Acts and is a forerunner to his New Testament in Modern English. While I’ve had his New Testament in Modern English translation as a part of my library for 30+ years, having The Young Church in Action excites me because this book adds something that wasn’t included in his translation of the entire New Testament, Phillips’ preface to his translation. After reading this preface, I knew that I needed to share a brief excerpt from the writings of an individual who had lived and breathed Luke’s writing about the Early Church.
Action“It is impossible to spend several months in close study of the remarkable short book, conventionally known as the Acts of the Apostles, without being profoundly stirred and, to be honest, disturbed. The reader is stirred because he is seeing Christianity, the real thing, in action for the first time in human history …. Here we are seeing the Church in its first youth, valiant and unspoiled – a body of ordinary men and women joined in an unconquerable fellowship never before seen on this earth.’
‘Yet we cannot help feeling disturbed as well as moved, for this surely is the Church as it was meant to be. It is vigorous and flexible, for these are the days before it ever became fat and short of breath through prosperity, or musclebound by overorganization. These men did not make “acts of faith,” they believed; they did not “say their prayers,” they really prayed. They did not hold conferences on psychosomatic medicine, they simply healed the sick. But if they were uncomplicated and naive by modern standards, we have ruefully to admit that they were open on the God-ward side in a way that is almost unknown today.”
It’s me again … After reading Phillips’ observation, I cried a prayer of repentance. We are undeniably so far removed from the Church birthed on the Day of Pentecost. I had to repent and ask Jesus to forgive us for what we have done to His Church. Then, it was imperative for me to ask for a new outpouring of His Spirit so that we can once again become the Church that we were meant to be. It is from this fresh Upper Room outpouring that will enable us to once again become the people who will turn our world upside down.
Will you join me? Let’s start afresh and anew by crying out for the fire of the Holy Ghost that fell some 2000 years ago. To borrow from a song that I sang as a little boy, “Give me that old time religion, that old time religion. Give me that old time religion. It’s good enough for me.”