Fulfilling an AWOP Dream: Becoming a Revival of the Early Church: What Will It Take?

Like many of you, I attended the XL Summit Saturday, July 15 in Mason. It was indeed a celebration—and a beautiful creation of God was once again celebrated as Chuck Proudfit explained the growth from a small group of believers simply seeking to maximize the presence of their faith in the marketplace 20 years ago to what At Work on Purpose has become today.

Kudos to Chuck and crew for letting themselves be vessels for all God has done through them. Kudos most of all, to the Holy Spirit for making this happen.

Without Him, we would not be where we are today.

And with Him, we can get to where we need to go.

But to do so, we’ve got to begin learning how to give more space and place to the work of the Holy Spirit.

And for those coming from a Western Christian mindset, that might be more of a challenge than we’d care to admit.

But it’s a challenge we can meet. Because the Holy Spirit is in our lives, making Himself free to us. He’s not just a “power” we chose to use so we can do things “right.”

When “we” with our sense of rugged American individualism can step out of the way, He begins using us as he did in the early church. And we begin to learn the role He played in the AWOP lives of believers then—and the role He’s willing to play in the AWOP lives of people today. Especially, when we learn to interact with Him properly, and learn how to look for, discern, and follow His lead.

The Star of the Early Church

When you read the book of Acts, who would you say the main “actor” is in the narrative? For several chapters, Peter gets a bit of a spotlight. He stands up in the midst of the disciples, and says, in effect, “Judas bailed. We’ve got to appoint a replacement.” And he initiates the process where Matthias is chosen in Judas’ place, and the apostles do all those “leadership’ espousing teachers say must be done to move forward—holes in the leadership are filled (Acts 1:15-26).

He then “stands up” again in Acts 2. This time the coward who denied Jesus is standing up boldly and proclaiming him and sees God bring 3000 to Christ in one day.

Peter continues to take the lead until about Acts 13. Then a new “star” of the story emerges. The fire-breathing Christian persecutor Saul becomes Christianity’s greatest marketer Paul. And you see Paul preaching Christ in the marketplace, in the arena, in his day job as a tentmaker, and to sailors on a sinking ship. The story seems to end with him being the “star” of the show.

But neither Peter nor Paul were the stars of the story of the Acts of the Apostles. The real star was the Holy Spirit, the one who was the director of the whole shebang. Like Alfred Hitchcock was famous for doing, he made visible personal appearances from time to time. But even when he was not visible, He was the one directing the whole show.

And the primitive church revolutionized the culture of the known world because they knew how to let the Holy Spirit use them, rather than them “use” Him to get God’s work done.

Calling for a Change in Our Cultural Paradigm

The Enlightenment has done a number on us, sisters and brothers in Christ, and it has led to the minimization of the ministry of the Trinity in our culture’s midst. The Trinity has become a doctrine we can politely and correctly and even piously declare. But we don’t get its significance. Richard Rohr has been said to explain it this way.

“For too many Christians, the doctrine of the Trinity was unfathomable, abstract, and boring theology because we tried to process it with our rational and dualistic minds. We viewed it as not much more than a speculative curiosity or mathematical conundrum . . . I imagine many of us were told—as I was as a young boy in Kansas that we shouldn’t even try to understand the
Trinity, because it’s a “mystery.” He also notes that it “has had few practical or pastoral implications in most people’s lives.”

And that’s a shame. Because especially in this generation, it may be one of our greatest—and most overlooked—kingdom life-spreading tools in our toolkit.

It’s living and sharing the Trinitarian life of God.

Not only in the marketplace but in practically every aspect of our life.

To help AWOP achieve its God-given dream of being a revival of the potent power of the early church in today’s culture, we’re going to redouble our efforts to do this through this blog and other means available to us.

And hopefully, it will enable this amazing movement God has started to fulfill the goal Christ himself had for all creation—to live and share the Trinitarian Life of God, in the marketplace, and beyond.

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