Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A CHRISTIAN IS.....

There is a statement made on a blog I frequently read that introduces the comment section with this rather humble and simple statement,"Comments from people who know more than I." [Or words to that effect.] I like that. I like that attitude. I don't know the author of that blog personally, but from what I've read that he's written, I think he means it genuinely.

It is that conviction that causes me to use what others have written so often on this blog. There are just too many good things being said by people who know more than I and say it far better.

With that, you understand why I do it again. When you read what is to follow [I first saw it in the comment section on Paul Littleton's blog and researched it for myself on the internet] you will see a description written about Christians in the second century AD. What a statement it is. My prayer for all of us who name Jesus as Lord of our lives is that some degree of this kind of explanation of Christians will be the rediscovered testimony of life for us in the new year of 2007.

With that, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a very wonderful New Year from the Burlesons.



From a letter to Diognetus, sometime in the second Century-


"Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.
And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.
They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.
To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.
Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body's hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself."

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

And they don't drink tea. :)

bryan

Paul Burleson said...

Bryan,

You are one early riser or your body clock is still set for Hawaii time. Probably a little of both is my guess. :) Good to hear from you. Welcome home to the mainland.

Gne Thomas said...

Interestingly, I just recently shut down a BLOG wherein I opined, and offered what I thought was careful Bible exegesis. Foeeey! Now I post to a BLOG I have named "whosaidthat" ( http://www.whosaidthat.mindsay.com ) Not only am I more comfortable, its fun finding all this stuff. I may quote in the next few day.
Gene

Bob Cleveland said...

Wow.

Mario Murillo said, many years ago in a sermon, that "We're living on the blood of our forefathers". It appears it goes clear back to the second century.

I have to wonder what modern Christianity would have to say about people who lived, today, as the letter to Diognetus describes. Sadly, the word "Cult" comes to mind.

Tim Sweatman said...

I don't think I have ever met a Christian who really fits this description. Perhaps that has something to do with why the church in the U.S. is in such a mess.

Paul Burleson said...

Thomas,

Isn't that the truth. It is more fun quoting others. Not near as troublesome either.

Bob and Tim,

Both you guys are probably right. It WOULD look cultic by modern definitions and I haven't seen one either.

Lee said...

Maybe part of the problem we are experiencing in this country as Christians is that we are trying too hard to be distinguishable in traditions and customs, and not enough in the way we live out our faith. I can't imagine that, in the Christianity that Diognetus describes, it would matter much who the most prominent, well known, famous preachers were, or how big the churches were, or who held the power in a certain denomination.

Paul Burleson said...

Lee,

The only adequate response I can think of to your comment is..."bingo."

Bob Cleveland said...

Lee:
"Wow" and "What you said" also comes to mind.

Alyce Lee said...

I read this "defination" and thought... how wonderful that would be.
Then I thought... A father is..
A mother is...
thinking of a scriptural, godly defination of the roles of fatherhood and motherhood.
I was recently ask to read the scripture at a young couples wedding at our church. In preparing for the wedding I prayed for the reality of a scriptural union to be formed in them, not what we see here and now.
God, bring us to your reality.