Being converted to our religious body, I heard the phrase "The Marks of the Early Church" from the git-go. Our goal, it was pressed, is to be identical to the first century group. Furthermore, I was assured, we do it better than any other brand of believers. Such stance has come back to bite us repeatedly if we happen to be off in one or a few details. And, we happen to be off.
Who's right and who's not seems to have been assumed the trump card on the table. The huge problem with such an overbearing question is how quickly leadership and its movement slips into self-rightness (self-righteousness) which one finds Jesus fighting at every crossroads. "We are right!" "We are right!" say the placards held high by the protesters across the land.
Jesus is right. The Word is clear we could never get there on our own, by ourselves, regardless of superior training or coveted understanding of the original language. Yet, we continue to march in the parade and carry the banners which now read, "We are Right!" "You are Wrong!".
I was wrong about being right. Jesus makes any of us right. Jesus is our mark. Think about it: preachers who are angry, elders who are disgusted, members who are hacked....this reflects the hope and assurance of a believing true body of Christ? Why the tension? Why such extreme touchiness in our brand of spirituality? If we slip into believing we are right then abundant pressure presents itself. We cannot rely on the Holy Spirit to bear His fruit of kindness, patience, and love. He won't bear it in us and we can't produce it on our own.
Being right isn't the mark of the early church unless one is discussing the righteous gift God gives us. Pulpits and pews have been ransacked by the bully of rightness. Preachers fear they'll get it wrong and members become convinced they will never be good enough to meet the standards arrogantly taught in Bible classes. They don't rebel visibly. They simply pack up their weaknesses and carry their tackle to the lake where they can hope to find some semblance of peace and quiet and joy.
It should have been found in the church for such is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But it wasn't found by too many as the slimmer crowds continued to say to one another, "You know many are called but few are chosen." The selection was never based on who could name the fives steps to anything. It is based on who believes Jesus is the one who makes any of us right.