In his history of the Christian church from the 4th to the 14th centuries, Fletcher points out that organized Christianity targeted the most powerful individuals in a society first.  The reason they did so was because they needed protection, monetary support, status, and access to royal power of coercion.  [1]

The first question we must ask is why Christianity needed all this help from the secular world.  Was not Christianity able to survive based upon its own merits?  Why did Christianity need help from the political, financial, and cultural elements of a society for it to be accepted?  Or did those Christians just want quick success without all the hard work of convincing people of the validity of Christianity and of actually putting Christianity into practice?

Because of our limits, it is understandable why Christians would band together and use all the elements of a society to accomplish some purpose such as fulfilling the Great Commission.  However, once we form any organization, there is the temptation to consider the organization as more important than the mission; to make accommodations to our belief system and actions to promote, preserve, and grow the organization.

In the 11th century, the Archbishop Wulfstan of York told the king of England Canute that he should express his gratitude to God for his good fortune and remorse for the blood he shed by lavish gifts to the church and acts of piety. [2]  Did Jesus ever say such a thing to the political leaders of his day?  No, Jesus was more interested in a change in the life of each individual he met.  The existence and maintenance of any organization was secondary.  We like to think that Christianity is growing when more people join more churches or when we build more churches, bible schools, seminaries.  Is that really true?  Or is Christianity growing when we see a change in peoples’ lives, when they become more like Christ?


[1]   Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion, New York:  Henry Holt and Company, 1997, p.236-237.

[2]   Ibid., p. 408.

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