I've heard some people say that they wish they could live in the days of the early church. They perhaps imagine that those were heady days and wonderful and that there were no problems and the sun always shone and the fellowship was sweet and the teaching was pure and the music not too loud and every church member read their Bibles every day (OT only of course), prayed frequently and grew rapidly into spiritual giants and everyone lived happily ever after. But it wasn't a bit like that so when some people say they wish they could go back to the days of the early church, I often wonder what church they mean?
What about the Corinthian church? - immorality abounded (including incest) and there was serious abuse of the Lords table. Some of the members were even threatening to take other members to court.
How about the Colossian church? – ongoing struggles with the gnostic heresy and in danger of downplaying the uniqueness of the faith
How about the churches in Galatia then? – too much emphasis on law and in danger of becoming legalistic and ignoring freedom in Christ
How about the church in Thessalonica? - some of their members had given up their jobs in anticipation of the soon coming Christ. There was also a lot of confusion about those who had already died in the faith
What about Thyatira?- they tolerated the false teaching of Jezebel.
Pergamum? Some there held to the teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans.
Not all plain sailing was it? Then, as now, they struggled with doctrinal purity, sinful members and petty (and not so petty) disputes on secondary issues.
We are always fighting for the purity of the church and for the growth of the members. The enemy does not make this task easy. In fact he places a higher value on the church than many of its members do. He realises the importance of God’s church more than many Christians do. That’s why he pays it so much attention, 200 years ago and now. He doesn’t care if he destroys it from within or from without, using fair means or foul, appearing as an angel of light or as a roaring lion. He has the church in his sights and all tactics are available to him.
Don’t so much look back to non-existent good old days – look in and examine yourself and look up to the Head of the church who has preserved it through 2000 years and will do so until he comes to take us onto Himself.