“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” – John 6:27
The key in our “Key Verse” is that Father God has set his seal upon Jesus. Here’s what Barnes’ Notes on the Bible says about this seal:
To seal is to confirm or approve as ours. This is done when we set our seal to a compact, or deed, or testament, by which we ratify it as our act. So God the Father, by the miracles which had been performed by Jesus, had shown that he had sent him, that he approved his doctrines, and ratified his works. The miracles were to his doctrine what a seal is to a written instrument. – Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
The Key is Jesus
The key in this new series, “Why So Many,” will always be Jesus. What we are searching for is how Jesus expressed Himself through individual Christians and, collectively, through His Church during the early days of Christianity that was so transformative.
For the sake of clarity, let me clearly state that our work as laborers for Christ (1 Corinthians 15:58) is far from over. The title of this series, Why So Many,” is not meant to imply that there are a sufficient number of Christians!
For “Why So Many”, we are again using the idea that we are on an expedition to learn what individual Christians as well as the Church did during the first few hundred years after Christ’s ascension that set Christianity on its course to change the whole world. However, instead of archaeologists, this time we will be anthropologists. BTW – archaeology is a subset of anthropology.
Anthropology: the study of human beings and their ancestors through time and space and in relation to physical character, environmental and social relations, and culture – Merriam Webster Dictionary
Learning from our Ancient Brothers and Sisters
For our study, we will consider why the whole world has been changed by Christianity. There are some fascinating discoveries that we will make on our journey as we learn why so many people abandoned their ancestral religions as well as wealth, families, property, and familiar culture to be reborn and live for Jesus.
The impetus of this series is for us to learn from our ancient Christian brothers and sisters. How did they live? What did they value? What can they teach us? Why would a hedonist reject their life, receive Jesus, and refuse to deny his Savior even when commanded to deny Jesus upon pain of death? Yet, in our modern world, Christians often refrain from sharing Jesus at work because it is against company policy. Our modern justification appears lacking when compared to execution.
What is the difference between then and now? It appears reasonable that there may be much that we can learn from the first Christians. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 (NLT):
Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?
This fragrance does not discriminate between friends or family. Do you remember when Christ’s half-brothers didn’t believe in Him? We find this in John 7:5, “For not even his brothers believed in him.” God had prophesied this in Psalms 69:8 (ESV), “I have become a stranger to my brothers.” We shall see this derision and doubt repeated against Christ’s regenerated followers from the 1st century all the way to today, and most certainly tomorrow.
So now we know our mission. In the next installment of this series we will look into something that Coptic Christians did from their conviction that life is valuable. It is shocking.