Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3
I included this excerpt from an old Greek epistle in a Koinonia last year. It came back to my attention when Fuzzy mentioned it in one of the writings he recently shared with me. When I first sent it, we were at the beginning of our “Nourishing the Roots” movement. Given where we are now as a church, I thought it was pertinent to share it again and see if it might be somewhat of a litmus test for how far we’ve come. The epistle was written by unknown Greek author in AD 130. He was describing this new and emerging gathering, which called themselves Christian:
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... But…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 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 dishonored and yet in their very dishonor are glorified…. Yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred. To sum it all up in one word -- what the soul is to the body, that are Christians in the world.
What an amazing description! Is that what an outside observer would see of us? Is that what they would glimpse if they came to our worship service, fellowship, or outreach?
Would our method of life be striking? Would they grasp that we are sojourners, not taking comfort in the things of this world, yet finding utter assurance in the promises from above? Would they see agape in all that we do, and a resilience to overcome anything that would deny it? Would we be above reproach?
To be the ‘soul of the world’ is a pretty big task. Yet that is what we are called to be…to be the Lord’s representatives. We are to reflect the very essence of the soul which He created, and to manifest that creation through mind, heart, and hands, just as Jesus once did.
As you pray about the new season this church is about to begin, reflect on these queries and listen to what the Lord has to say. May we encourage and guide each other as we seek to fulfill the work that God gives us. For together we will continue to overcome any obstacles that come our way.
-- Pastor Justin
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