and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Early Writing about Christians 2

(This first part was so well written, I am quoting directly from the site.)
       Many of us live our lives no differently than do conservative non-Christians, except for the fact that we attend church regularly each week. We watch the same entertainment. We share the same concerns about the problems of this world. And we are frequently just as involved in the world's commercial and materialistic pursuits. Often, our being "not of this world" exists in theory more than in practice.

       But the church was not originally like that. The first Christians lived under a completely different set of principles and values than the rest of mankind. They rejected the world's entertainment, honors, and riches. They were already citizens of another kingdom, and they listened to the voice of a different Master.    
(History of the Early Church @

Letter to Diognetus @ 130 AD
-Yet, although they live in Greek and barbarian cities alike, as each man's lot has been cast, and follow the customs of the country in clothing and food and other matters of daily living, at the same time they give proof of the remarkable and admittedly extraordinary constitution of their own commonwealth.
-They live in their own countries, but only as aliens. They have a share in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their fatherland, and yet for them every fatherland is a foreign land. They marry, like everyone else, and they beget children, but they do not cast out their offspring. They share their board with each other, but not their marriage bed.
-It is true that they are "in the flesh," but they do not live "according to the flesh. They busy themselves on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, but in their own lives they go far beyond what the laws require. They love all men, and by all men are persecuted. They are unknown, and still they are condemned; they are put to death, and yet they are brought to life. They are poor, and yet they make many rich; they are completely destitute, and yet they enjoy complete abundance. They are dishonored, and in their very dishonor are glorified; they are defamed, and are vindicated. They are reviled, and yet they bless; when they are affronted, they still pay due respect. When they do good, they are punished as evildoers; undergoing punishment, they rejoice because they are brought to life. They are treated by the Jews as foreigners and enemies, and are hunted down by the Greeks; and all the time those who hate them find it impossible to justify their enmity.
-To put it simply: What the soul is in the body, that Christians are in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, but does not belong to the body, and Christians dwell in the world, but do not belong to the world.

True Christians proved (by their behaviour) the remarkable and extraordinary foundation of Christ.
They shared everything.  They endured everything.
They did not cast out their children.
They shared housing, but did not commit adultery.
They did not live worldly (for self pleasure).
They went beyond what the law required.
They loved all men, even if persecuted by them.
They were poor, destitute yet enjoyed abundance and made others rich.
They blessed when reviled and paid respect even when insulted.

Can the world say these things about Christians today?

If not, why not?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Early Writing about Christians

       Why does it matter what people thought of the Christians who lived soon after Christ? (This means the apostles, first disciples and a few generations after.) Well, it is because the early Christians are the best, untainted example we have of how Jesus wanted us to live.  So for the next couple posts (or more) I will be copying translations of what some of the people back in history said about Christians of the day, some believers themselves.  To make it an easier read, I will put in bold the words I consider most interesting.

Let’s see if the world today could say these same things about Christians today…

Pliny the Younger  61 to 112 AD
 ‘Those who denied that they were or had been Christians…--none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do…’
(In charge of putting Christians to death, Pliny forced them to prove their denials of Christ by sacrificing to gods.  He found the true Christians would never recant!)

Justin Martyr  100 to 165 AD
“We who used to value the acquisition of wealth and possessions more than anything else now bring what we have into a common fund and share it with anyone who needs it. We used to hate and destroy one another and refused to associate with people of another race or country. Now, because of Christ, we live together with such people and pray for our enemies.”
We don't speak great things—we live them  (possible quote of Justin)

Clement  150 to 215 AD
“He impoverishes himself out of love, so that he is certain he may never overlook a brother in need, especially if he knows he can bear poverty better than his brother. He likewise considers the pain of another as his own pain. And if he suffers any hardship because of having given out of his own poverty, he does not complain.”

True Christians would not deny Christ or sacrifice to gods even if faced with certain death.
Common wealth and possessions were shared with the needy.
They stopped hating and cliquish behaviour, rather living with anyone.
They prayed for enemies.
They lived what they said.
They share out of love with brothers.
They considered one another’s pain as their own.
They did not complain when they suffered hardship by helping others.

Would the ‘unsaved’ world say these things about us?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Real Needs

       I’ve been under a lot of conviction for how we live as a ‘Christian’ people in North American society lately.  Today I was thinking of true needs as opposed to perceived needs, verses wants.  For example, our real needs are food, water, shelter, clothing and safety (includes health care).  We really, truly don’t need anything else for our bodies to survive.

We don’t need dessert, donuts, chips, chocolate, pudding, waffles, pie, cake, cookies, pizza, hot dogs, fried chicken, our favorite foods, or even delicious food, take out, restaurants and fast food…
(Our basic needs are protein, dairy, vegetables, fruit, and grain in the necessary caloric intake determined by your age/ weight/ activity level.)

We don’t need coffee, tea, pop, lattes, juice, hot chocolate, cappuccinos, milk, alcoholic beverages.
(Only reasonably clean water is needed.)

We don’t need a pretty house with curtains, nicely decorated and landscaped, with electronics (tv, computers, ipods and mp3s, radios, cell phones) toys, movies, games, the latest gadgets and lots and lots of stuff inside.
(All we really need is four walls, a ceiling and a floor with warmth or ventilation for appropriate temperatures and perhaps a fridge and stove….)

We don’t need fancy name brand clothes or fashionable outfits and twenty pairs of shoes.
(We need to be appropriately covered with reasonable clothes for the local climate, and we can only walk in one pair of shoes at a time.)

       Sounds pretty sparse and certainly not an 'enjoyable' life in today's worldly view, yet we really, truly do not ‘need’ more than this.  We want more, we are used to more, and we think we can’t live without perceived needs and wants, but the truth is that we could if we had too.  North Americans as a whole are self indulgent in almost all areas of our lives but according to the Bible we Christians are not to live like the rest of the world…
and yet…

       The early Christians after the baptism of the Holy Spirit lived different lives, so different that people could see it.  They shared, they gave, they weren’t extravagant, and their attitudes and love were renowned.  They took care of their needs, even sharing that and used perceived needs and wants to help others.

Who wants to try and live that way with me?

Any takers?