Ireland has for a long time been called “the land of saints and scholars.” This description reflects the fact that religion played a major part in Irish history: monks and scribes, in the safety and seclusion of monastic life, preserved many of the West’s written treasures and to some extent “saved civilization” when the stability of Europe was rocked. While we are thankful for the literary accomplishments of the medieval Irish, we must not overlook the fact that it was in the context of false religion. All over the Emerald Isle there are monasteries and convents testifying to the mistaken belief that religion could best be maintained by being kept apart from the outside world, that seclusion and separation equaled holiness.
The apostle and disciples of the early New Testament church had a different view. The believers practiced separation from sin, not separation from not society. They were very conscious of the need for personal sanctification, but they did not take their true Christianity and hide it behind the gray walls of a monastery.
Our text shows that the early disciples lived their Christian lives for God before men. They went out into the world among the people. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said there is always the danger that we should “think of Christianity as something abstract and intellectual. Though we must know the theory and have the understanding, we must never forget that first and foremost the Christian faith deals with life and living; it is the most revolutionary power the world has ever known. A dead church is a contradiction in terms. It is dead something—call it what you like—but not a dead church. The church is life, and it is power, and it is vigour.”
How true! We are often ashamed of the gospel. We feel comfortable in the services on a Lord’s Day, but Monday sees us afraid, timid, and silent. We must pray for power and courage to be out and to meet the world with the gospel of Christ.