Lovers of the World for the Joy of Heaven

Thursday is for Discipleship

I admit it. I love history. And I love reading the history of previous believers with the guts to live for the Savior. Here’s one of my ancient heroes from the annals of Christian history. Diognetus reminds us of where our true citizenship lies and where our true power is derived from. The following is from Kairos Journal. May God purify us and make us truly citizens of heaven and aliens to the world and yet lovers of the world for the joy of heaven.

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4th Century Fresco — unknown artist

Diognetus (c. 100 – 150)

The Letter to Diognetus was written by an unknown early Christian apologist during the time when the early Church was persecuted by the pagan Roman government. The author attacks pagan beliefs and practices as superstitious and immoral. He argues that biblical teaching is superior to pagan philosophy, because it is grounded in the divine revelation, not in human wisdom; Believers are good citizens because their moral values transcend the conventions of pagan society. For example, Christians are staunchly opposed to infanticide (exposure of infants) and adultery:

For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of humanity by country, language, or custom. For nowhere do they live in cities of their own, nor do they speak some unusual dialect, nor do they practice an eccentric life-style. This teaching of theirs has not been discovered by the thought and reflection of ingenious men, nor do they promote any human doctrine, as some do. But while they live in both Greek and barbarian cities, as each one’s lot was cast, and follow the local customs in dress and food and other aspects of life, at the same time they demonstrate the remarkable and admittedly unusual character of their own citizenship. They live in their own countries, but only as aliens; they participate in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign country is their fatherland, and every fatherland is foreign. They marry like everyone else, and have children, but they do not expose their offspring. They share their food, but not their wives. They are “in the flesh,” but they do not live “according to the flesh.” They live on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws; indeed in their private lives they transcend the laws. They love everyone, and by everyone they are persecuted.1

Marty Schoenleber, Jr. is the founding pastor of one church, the teaching pastor of another and the church planting trainer/mentor of over 200 other church planting pastors. He is adjunct professor of Church Planting at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and has taught Preaching at the International School of Theology, and Evangelism at Moody Graduate School of Theology.  His latest book is Settlers or Sojourners, 2015). To enjoy a free subscription to his blog, log-on to www.chosenrebel.wordpress.com, where you can post your comments, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest reflections on church planting, Biblical Expositions and musings about church, culture and spiritual formation. Follow Pastor Marty on twitter @1Chosenrebel4JC.
1 “The Epistle to Diognetus,” in The Apostolic Fathers, ed. and rev. Michael W. Holmes (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 541. In other translations see 5.1-11.

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