Lived witness

May 1, 2016

The Century invited people to comment on their favorite book of the Bible and a book that has helped them appreciate or understand the biblical text. All of the responses are linked here.

The Rev. James M. Lawson Jr., who trained the students who sat in at lunch counters and desegregated Nash­ville, says that those students did not know that they were the “civil rights movement.” Likewise, the Christians whose ministries are documented in the book of Acts did not know that they were the “early church.” They were living their faith as fully as possible in their historic context.

I am inspired and challenged by these Christians’ practical recognition of the implications of the kingdom that came in and through Jesus. They knew themselves to be a family in Christ, and so they shared all things in common. They knew that the ancient hierarchies of Jew/gentile, slave/free, and male/female were breaking down. And yet they struggled with how to live the process of liberation.

Justo González, in Tres meses en la escuela del espíritu, opened my eyes to the early disciples’ profound commitment to shifting power in Acts 6. Here the apostles, as Hebraic Jews, respond to the Hellenist widows’ complaints of unjust food distribution by setting up a committee of all Hellenists to decide all food distribution. This lived witness of justice is central to the explosive growth of the early church.