This morning I read a anonymous letter in church that was written around the second century. In it, the author describe the early Christians. Several of you have asked for a copy. So here it is… I posted it below. As you read it ask yourself: Can Christians today be distinguished from the world as easy as the early Christians were?
A letter to Diognetus, from an unknown writer, possibly dating from the second century.
“For Christians are not differentiated from other people by country, language or customs; you see, they do not live in cities of their own, or speak some strange dialect, or have some peculiar lifestyle.
This teaching of theirs has not been contrived by the invention and speculation of inquisitive men; nor are they propagating mere human teaching as some people do. They live in both Greek and foreign cities, wherever chance has put them. They follow local customs in clothing, food and the other aspects of life. But at the same time, they demonstrate to us the wonderful and certainly unusual form of their own citizenship.
They live in their own native lands, but as aliens; as citizens, they share all things with others; but like aliens, suffer all things. Every foreign country is to them as their native country, and every native land as a foreign country.
They marry and have children just like every one else; but they do not kill unwanted babies. They offer a shared table, but not a shared bed. They are at present in the flesh but they do not live according to the flesh. They are passing their days on earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey appointed laws, and go beyond the laws in their own lives.
They love every one, but are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and gain life. They are poor and yet make many rich. They are short of everything and yet have plenty of all things. They are dishonored and yet gain glory through dishonor.
Their names are blackened and yet they are cleared. They are mocked and bless in return. They are treated outrageously and behave respectfully to others. When they do good, they are punished as evildoers; when punished, they rejoice as if being given new life. They are attacked by Jews as aliens, and are persecuted by Greeks; yet those who hate them cannot give any reason for their hostility.
To put it simply – the soul is to the body as Christians are to the world. The soul is spread through all parts of the body and Christians throughout all the cities of the world. The soul is in the body but is not of the body; Christians are in the world but not of the world.”
Many of the early Christians became martyrs for their faith. A martyr describes someone that has laid down their lives for the Gospel. It’s interesting that the word MARTYR comes from a word that literally means WITNESS. Not all of us are called to be a martyr, but ALL OF US (as Christians) are called to be WITNESSES. It’s unfortunate that too often it’s difficult to tell the difference between a believer and a unbeliever. Christians are to be in the world, but not of the world.
Rick Warren compares the CHURCH to a BOAT and the WORLD as the WATER. A boat is meant to float on the water, but you’ve got a problem with the water begins to get in the boat. Likewise the Church is to be in the world, but you’ve got a problem when the world begins to get into the Church.
May God give us the grace and power to live godly lives unto Him that the world may take notice and see the Lord we worship through us!