We follow a very old faith. For over two thousand years we have seen many eras of meaning, symbol, and significance. These eras have paved the way for later movements. Despite the desire to completely abandon the old ways and pursue a completely new way of Christian, what remains a reality is that we have to learn from what has become the past in order to wisely approach the future. In the Christian faith, we have two millenniums to work with. We can learn from our predecessors what the ethos of our faith is and the direction our faith should go.
The focus for this series is certain symbols of the early church, within the first two hundred years. Christians began as a minority religion that was shunned by the majority in society. They were not liked and sometimes had lies spread about them by Jews and Gentiles alike. That led to much of their communication outside of gathering times to drawn symbols. These symbols indicated the presence of a Christian community that would meet in that location as well as communicated a core of what a disciple of Jesus was. They would draw their identities which would include themes such as community, evangelism, hope, resurrection, and the person of Jesus Christ, the son of God.
The value of these symbols for us is the reminder that we have had a mission for the last two thousand years. The Spirit of God has been informing us of our narrative. We are part of this same story and are part of this community that finds its identity in Christ. So everything that Jesus did or commanded us to do was put into a picture that everyone could understand. That is something we still are supposed to do today. Our presence needs to be communicated. We can use symbol to describe our purpose and to remind each other that we are part of a movement to change the world. We are the spearhead movement of the kingdom that will break down the walls that have been built by the world.
As we move from message to message, we will explore some symbols and the unique messages they communicated with the believers. We will also dive into their message for us today. Are we following Jesus like the early church was trying to do? Are we try to at least head in His direction.
(Series inspired by and some content taken from Early Christianity: In Their Own Words, by Eberhard Arnold.)