(asked to write a short essay on why one might study “Church history”)
Imagine you discover a new Kingdom, and the King invites you in to spend some time together. In your conversation you learn about His heart, and the amazing power He has over an infinite number of things, and continue to be drawn in. You decide there could be nothing quite better than serving Him and enjoying being a part of His Kingdom forever. As you become a citizen, you receive a book that has all the ways of this new land written within, but some of them seem beyond reach, and others seem beautiful woven into stories that should be dwelt on, and talked about with others. The King also seemed to hint that this book is growing, and you’re now a part of the grand story.
Excited about this new opportunity you head into the local village. You can’t wait to learn more about the ways of life in this new land and meet the people who’ve lived here a long time already. You know already – your life will never be the same.
On your way toward the town square, you get pulled aside by a small group of people. In this group, everyone seems to be holding their Kingdom book tightly across their chest, as if proving their love for it visually. Their leader explains he wanted to connect with you while you were still pure. Before you were “influenced” by wrong thoughts or practices. They invite you to their community, where you’ll have your own room to study the pages of the Kingdom book in private.
Over time and conversation, your frustration with this small community grows. They won’t tell you anything about others, how they arrived, or what life so far has been like. They say it would make you impure. There are some questions you have about one story in particular that doesn’t seem to make sense, but they won’t let you ask others about it – because here only private study is allowed. This small group of people also seems to have issues that could be resolved by going into the village and talking with others, but they don’t seem interested. You’re not sure this is the Kingdom you were so excited to be a part of.
One morning you wake, and find a note left by the King himself next to a book on the chair in your room. He has written, “This may help.” As you flip through the pages, you find story after story of how others have arrived here, and it begins to remind you of your own journey here. The ways others discovered this amazing King make you smile as you remember when you first met him. Some of them wondered about the same mysterious story as you, and here are the thoughts of several who have spent time dwelling on it. Their insights make your heart beat faster, and you breathe deeply as you continue to turn pages. All of a sudden, you realize a story from this book is exactly the insight this small community could use to solve a current problem. Excitedly, you run to the leaders to share with them what you’ve found. Gasping, they try to take this new book from you. They explain that the people who wrote and lived those stories did not agree with them 100%, and if you did not hand it over immediately, you would not be able to stay.
As you walked away with both books tucked under your arms, you took a long slow breath of fresh air. The village stretched out in front of you, and you were filled with a new hope for life together with these Kingdom people.