I have been thinking, lately, about spiritual identity. This was inspired by looking at the attitudes Jesus confronted in His lifetime, as well as the multitude of denominations, sects and movements in existence today, each defending their viewpoints passionately. In my opinion, many are searching for a purer, truer expression of the faith, and many movements start with a person pursuing that purer expression, but the movement they inspire takes on it’s own identity.
Consider the attitudes and traditions that Jesus confronted, especially among the religious leadership. Then consider that the span of time from Jesus to today is longer than the span of time from Moses to Jesus. That’s plenty of time for people’s priorities to drift. That being said, I don’t think going back is the answer. I don’t think that our mission is to reconstruct the book of Acts. I absolutely believe that it is historical, and authoritative, and instructive, and critical to understanding the formation of the church, but our identity is in Christ Jesus, and that’s where the purer, truer faith is. I make this point because I think there’s a logical fallacy in emphasizing the years and the times and the people: Moses being alive did not make Israel successful, nor did Jesus being on the earth mean that everyone followed Him, nor did the apostles being alive mean that everything was perfect in the church in those days. This is the same kind of fallacy as when the rich man in Hades begged Abraham to send the poor man to warn his surviving brothers to repent, reasoning that if someone came back from the dead and told him, then they would believe (Luke 16:19-31).
Again, there is One who we must look to. I consider Peter asking Jesus “What about him?”, the answer being, “…what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” (from John 21:20-23)
It seems that people get hung up on things. I do wonder if part of the narrowness of the narrow path that Jesus speaks of (Matthew 7:14) has to do with all the spiritual and religious tangents that a person could go off on. Think about it this way: when you drive down a road, you are focused on the road ahead, and you make minor corrections as you go. Consequently, you stay in your lane and get to your destination safely. You do not, on the other hand, drive down the road with your head out the window focusing on where your tire is in relation to the lane line. That would be an example of straining out gnats and swallowing a camel (Matthew 23:24), or in this case, crashing your car because you failed to watch the bigger picture.