What difference would it make if we lived in a new apostolic age? What if the era of Christendom was truly over and we entered a new phase of humanity? For Christians, we can answer these questions with little curiosity because we are so busy with our daily lives that we don’t have time to think about such things. And yet our answers will make all the difference.
The early disciples of Christ, the Risen Lord, also had choices to make. During these first decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the period was called the apostolic age, because his disciples experienced the Holy Spirit in them. The Spirit of Jesus led this nascent group and gave them the confidence to engage with courage, daring, and conviction in the world in which they lived. His Spirit was called “the indwelling Spirit,” who also lives in each of us in this age of humanity.
After about 300 hundred years of the apostolic era, Christianity was legalized. But following the faith during the apostolic era was dangerous and risky and could cost the life of a follower. The era of Christendom required the simple recitation of a Creed and the admission that one was a Christian. Little was asked of these faithful because the rules of respect for the faith were sufficient for their lack of depth of conviction.
This is no longer true, and many scholars of our time argue that we are now living in a new apostolic age, in which being a Christian is once again dangerous and risky. We can be “canceled” for our beliefs and become as if we never existed, professionally or socially. We can be scrutinized for our admission into believing in this Spirit within who guides us and speaks to us of wisdom. We can be ridiculed for participating in the Eucharist, in which we eat the flesh and drink the blood of our leader. Some would say that we are a strange and sinister bunch.
- Decide if you are part of the new apostolic era and if you are ready to oppose this culture and be transformative. Choose to be hot or cold, but not lukewarm.
- Look for simple ways to live faithfully in your faith each day.
These ideas may be too much for the hustle and bustle of our season of life. We have children to raise or adult children to encourage. We have jobs and responsibilities. We have households and budgets. Who has time to think about a new apostolic era? We may wonder why we can’t just go back to the era of Christendom, which provided the rules for living a good life, and all we had to do was follow them faithfully? Wasn’t that enough?
And in fact, the answer would be a simple “no”. This is not enough in this secular, misguided and ungodly culture in which we live. We may not think we are up to the task of transforming our world, but we have to be. If we are unwilling to stand up firmly for what we believe, and instead choose to give in to cultural pressure, we may be tempted to commit the apostasy, which prevailed during the first apostolic era.
It has been said that “the blood of the martyrs was the seed of Christianity”. We need to ask ourselves if we are ready to live as true Christians in this new age. Are we ready to help transform the world or will we give in to the pressure of culture and swim with the flow? It is a decision that we must each make. As the book of Revelation says: “I know your works; I know you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth ”(3: 15-16). We are now living in a time when it is no longer acceptable to be lukewarm. We all have to choose and that choice will have consequences.
Soucheray is a Distinguished Marriage and Family Therapist and member of St. Ambrose of Woodbury. She holds a master’s degree in divinity from St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul and a doctorate in educational leadership from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota.
Category: Simple holiness