What about your church…my church…our church? Yeah, that church…the church we belong too. What about it? Most churches are now online and on their website they have an “About Us” page where a we can learn what the church wants us to know about them.
Fair enough. But what would be said if we let an outsider write down what our church is about?
Sometime during the mid to late 2nd century, a man by the name Mathetes wrote Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus. Within this epistle, Mathetes made a defense of Christians. Here is some of what he had to say from Chapter 5:
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; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.*
According to this, what is being said about these Christians from the 2nd century? What sort of beliefs and values might we conclude these Christians embrace? What are the priorities of these Christians? What is their passion? How does this participate in the mission of God?
Now…would the same be said about our churches…us? Something to think about!
* To read the entire writing, click here.