Impacting Our Culture

Recently I finished reading WHY CITIES MATTER by Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard. The authors included a portion of a letter (Letter to Diognetus) written to a government official in A.D. 140  arguing that Christians were not a blight to a city, but rather the “heart and soul of the city.”

“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 … with regard to dress, food and matter 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. … Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.

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 …

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 cities of the world, but their religious life remains unseen. … 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.” 
(Quoted from Christian Classic Ethereal Library on pages 145-6 in Why Cities Matter)

Disciples were multiplied during those days of our committed spiritual forefathers. Perhaps we can learn a lot from their model of living in two worlds at the same time.