The context of the world during the early days following the resurrection was very different religiously than it is today. It is strange to think that the majority of people on the planet had never heard of Jesus. Christians today often take it for granted that everyone within our culture knows at least some of the basics of our faith.
After all, even non-religious people celebrate Christmas.
How did we go from obscurity to dominant?
Peter mentions in the above reading that the disciples were all witnesses to the resurrection. Of course, by the time the Acts of the Apostles was written, most of the witnesses to the resurrection were in the third and fourth generations.
Being a witness to the resurrection originally meant "eye-witness" as in "we saw Jesus risen from the dead." As people heard Acts read to them, "all of us are witnesses," began to take on a different understanding. They would have seen themselves as a part of the movement. They are also witnesses to the resurrection because Christianity is a living faith.
The fact that they made this leap of understanding is evident because we are recipients of this faith today - a faith that crossed two millennia and an ocean. The difficulty for Americans is that we grew up in a culture where the majority were already witnesses to the resurrection. And so we began to assume that everyone was already part of the story.
|This old Sunday school postcard assumes|
that the truant friend is "lost" while the
regulars are "found." This may not be the kind of
witness we want to project today.
What does it mean for us to reclaim our identity as witnesses to the resurrection? At some point, we must quit assuming that others claim the Christian faith. The difficulty of sharing the faith is that when we were dominant, Christians sometimes adopted an arrogant stance.
How do we prioritize the sharing of faith while at the same time keeping an air of humility? I believe it begins with the resurrection becoming a key part of our lives. This means that the witness is something we don't aspire to do as much as how we go about living our lives.
Photo by wackystuff via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.