Would Jesus recognize this Church?
And if not, is that a bad thing?
How has the church changed since the first century of this era?
~ Rome has fallen and has reconstituted itself as a Christian empire.
~ Christianity is now an imperial religion.
~ The Church is now even more multi-national than it was at its inception.
~ Slavery has been outlawed virtually everywhere.
~ Monarchy has been delegitimized, overthrown, truncated.
~ Monarchs are no longer the symbols of unlimited power short of the power of God, even when they are anointed, they are less than the anointed of God.
~ There is a sovereign if nominal Jewish state in which the Church has a presence.
~ Gender bias hasn't changed much.
~ There are powerful women leaders in the Church and beyond now as there were then.
~ And there are gender bigots now as there were then.
~ Women have more reproductive options now, live longer and generally have fewer children.
~ With the practice of contraception sex outside of marriage has become commonplace.
~ All of us have a much longer life expectancy.
~ Literacy is the norm for most members of the Church in most contexts.
~ Same gender love is no longer claimed the sole (contested) privilege of wealthy Greek men who exercise it in a rigid hierarchy.
~ Same gender couples and families are welcome and affirmed in many churches.
Would Jesus recognize this Church? Does it matter? Would Jesus want the Church to stay trapped in the first century? Was Jesus's approach to his disciples anything like Osama bin Laden's approach to Islam? Did Jesus want us to imitate and replicate his first century life and only his first century life in perpetuity? Or does Jesus want the Church to become something that we cannot imagine, something that transcends our expectations? Perhaps Jesus is exclaiming with awe and wonder, I wonder what they will think of next?