Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Epistle to Diognetus

In Sunday's message, we looked at John 17:13-23 where Jesus outlines the church's relationship with the world. We talked about three common dangers. . .

  1. Flight = separatism = monastic movement

  2. Fight = militarism = the crusades

  3. Conformity = syncretism = the compromised church in all ages.

Jesus balanced words keep us from all three. . .

We are not of this world, not loved by this world, not taken from the world. Rather we are sent into the world so that the world might know and believe the Gospel.

What does all this look like? I referenced the Epistle to Diognetus (AD 130) which gives us a compelling picture of the early church.

The slides were lost, so I thought I would post the long quote so you could read and digest it slowly.

For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life.

They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life.

Lord, make us this kind of church!

2 comments:

Lara said...

AMEN!!!

Brian Wong said...

Wow! Amen! Can you imagine what the Church could do if it looked like that?