A small group of Christians in the year 88 AD:
"Some of us are Jews; some are Greeks or Romans. Some are citizens; many are slaves. But we are all Christians, disciples of Jesus the Christ.
We think he was born about 88 years ago--that's why we call this the 88th year of our Lord. We believe he was crucified in 33, but we're not sure. All we have are some partial accounts of his life and teachings, plus a few copies of copies of letters from Paul or one of the others. The Lord's first disciples are almost all gone now. There are rumors that John is alive, but he is not here and we don't know where he is. Peter and Paul and many others were killed in 64, when Rome burned and Nero blamed it on us.
The Jews rebelled against Rome in 67. When the Christians in Jerusalem saw the city surrounded by armies, they remembered what Jesus said about that, and fled across Jordan to Pella, in the desert. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70, and by the time the fortress at Masada fell in 73, they had crushed the entire Jewish nation. Now they are after us, too. The three generals who decimated the Jews each became Emperor, one after the other--Vespasian and his two sons, Titus and Domitian. Now, we must hide because Domitian is trying to restore the Roman religion. He executes both Christians and Jews.
But tonight we are all here, together, and perhaps safe enough for the moment. So ... why have we come? Why do we slip out at night, away from our masters and hiding from the Romans, to meet in caves and catacombs and darkened rooms? What do we expect to happen that is so different, so attractive, so important, that we risk our lives to be here?"
What if we all placed ourselves into that situation--mentally, emotionally and spiritually? What if we could lay aside all the unnecessary paraphernalia, embellishment, and other trappings we have inherited from nineteen hundred years of church councils, tradition, theologians, translators and interpreters,?
We have to remember that First Century Christians did not have a creed, a prescribed order of worship, a special church language, a hymnal of their own, a set of scholarly commentaries, or anything like that. They didn't even have what we now know as the New Testament.
So ask yourself, "What kind of church meeting would bring me out at night if the government was trying to kill me?" Today, we can't even get people to church if it rains. What was it? What was there, in those early Christian meetings, that we don't have? What did they do that we don't do?--and what do we do that they never heard of? What has been added, and what has been lost?