Living Behind Enemy Lines – Situational Awareness

In simple terms, ‘situational awareness’ means nothing more than recognizing your circumstances; knowing what’s going on around you. For instance, a military commander must be aware of the total situation around him and his unit on the battlefield, as well as the bigger ‘strategic’ picture.  Total situation awareness is essential for successful military operations against any enemy, on any battlefield, for any warrior.  As Christians, and warriors in the Kingdom of God, we need to maintain complete situational awareness as inhabitants of planet earth (the battlefield environment), as well as our Commander’s intent (God’s strategic picture).

Sadly, we often lose focus of both our battlefield environment and our Commander’s intent, for a variety of reasons.  They range  from our tendency to focus almost exclusively on ‘personal’ growth and fulfillment, to applying human wisdom and worldly principles to the operation of the ‘postmodern’ church as a whole.  At both levels, the result is that the Lord of the harvest, the Holy Spirit, sits in the back of the bus as we arrogantly occupy the driver’s seat!

Dear readers and friends, it is past time to regain our ‘situational awareness’ and overcome our spiritual ‘nearsightedness.’  For that task, we need to ‘begin at the beginning’ of our lives as Christians and go from there.  In a familiar and often quoted verse of Scripture, the Apostle Paul tells us:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

What a promise – the greatest makeover of all time!  When we place saving faith in Christ, we step out of darkness and into the light, passing from death to life!  We are given a new nature in Christ as the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our being, giving us a desire to serve God and the power to live a life of obedience to Him. This is common knowledge, not rocket science.

Our ‘makeover’ is so complete that in another of his letters to the early church, Paul presents what is a mystery to limited human logic.

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:6 

This is a bit more difficult for human logic to grasp, but notice the past tense verbs in this verse. Paul is saying that as Christians, although we physically remain here on planet Earth, we have already been ‘raised up’ and ‘seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.’  Paul partially explains this mystery in more easily understood terms a bit later in the same chapter:

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household. . .” Ephesians 2:19

A citizen is a legal resident of a nation, country or state.  Paul is saying that, at the moment of salvation, our ‘legal citizenship’ status changed!  One could say that if before we received Christ, we could have visited the ‘heavenly realm,’ we would have been ‘illegal aliens.’  We are not like the child born to an American military family overseas, who has dual-citizenship status until he or she is 18 years old and needs to make a decision.  We are NOT dual citizens.  Now listen to the Apostle Peter in one of his letters to the early church:

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” 1 Peter 2:11 

Do you see the contrast here? Paul tells us that at one time we were ‘aliens and foreigners’ to God’s household, while Peter tells us that as Christians we are now ‘aliens and strangers’ in the world in which we live!

Why is the world in which we live ‘foreign territory,’ why are we ‘aliens and strangers in it,’ and how do we apply these truths?

First we need to understand that the world in which we live is not, in the strictest sense, the world that God created for the crown of his creation, human beings molded in His image.  In fact, Scripture tells us that the problem of sin in the world that was brought about by willful disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (the why), is much bigger than just our little piece of turf.  There is a clear description of the present condition of God’s creation in Romans 8:17-24, in which we find the following:

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Romans 8:22

All of God’s creation is somehow tainted, polluted by sin, and in need of redemption.

Furthermore, our present world is not governed by God (although He is in complete control), but by a ‘temporary landlord’ ruling over the hearts of fallen man.

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” Ephesians 2:1-2

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4

As believers, we are citizens of the household of God, with a new ‘landlord,’ servants of the Most High God, no longer bound by the god of this world.  And as members of God’s household, we are now foreigners and strangers to the world we live in and enemies of the ‘god of this world.’

I have come to the inescapable conclusion that we are living behind enemy lines!  Perhaps this has caused your thought process to pause for a moment of speculation.  Maybe  it came to a screeching halt because your first reaction was “No way!”  Then hear what the Apostle James had to say to believers in his day who were becoming a bit too ‘friendly’ with the fallen culture around them.

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James 4:4

If you still aren’t convinced that we are living in enemy territory, I encourage you to read the entire chapter in James, followed by Jesus’ words to his followers in John, chapters 15 and 16, concerning what to expect from the world.

My friend, your opinion in this matter is between you and the Holy Spirit.  I merely encourage you to prayerfully consider the premise presented in the ramblings of an old soldier.  If you agree with the basic premise, you cannot escape the question: “Why are we still down here?”  Think about it.

 

The Bible and Hollywood

I firmly believe that the Bible was not intended to ‘entertain’ the Christian consumer, much less the lost millions who need a Savior from their sin. Nevertheless, Hollywood has discovered that there are untapped millions of dollars that are ripe for the taking from an all too willing ‘Christian’ audience eager and conditioned to think that God is all about satisfying our desires and temporal cravings.

There was probably a time when this was not the case, a time when going to church meant entering the house of a great big God who rightly deserves honor, worship, awe, respect, and fear. We sang God honoring hymns full of rich theology that spoke of what a mighty and merciful God had done on behalf of spiritually dead sinners. But I digress.

The change from humbly worshipping God in reverence and awe and listening to a precher actually exposit Scripture has been quite gradual. Over 100 years ago Charles Haddon preached a sermon titled “Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats”. You can find it online. I’m not going to get into a long dissertation concerning the various stages of ‘The Downgrade’ (another Spurgeonism), but I challenge you to investigate the situation on yourmown.

Back to Hollywood and the Bible. What prompted this post was yet another ‘hotly anticipated’ Bible based movie; a Sundance production about Jesus and Satan in the desert.

We seem to have had a rash of Biblical epics of questionable Biblical accuracy in the last several years, interspersed with outright heresey (think tourist trips,to heaven).

Sadly (gross understatement), professing believers from all across the Christian spectrum flock to these movies, sometimes by the bus load, sponsored by their ‘churches’, whose ‘leaders’ have been the ones who ‘conditioned’ them to go ‘aflocking’.

Why balk at the idea of Hollywood entertaining usmwhen we have ditched sound doctrine and the reading and peaching of the Bible for the narcisistic eisegesis of todays ‘relevant’ faux pastor who mostly tells stories about himself (and ‘herself’ where Biblical roles for the life,ofmthemchurchmare,discarded)’ and twists/mangles the Holy Writ for his/(her) personal gain and sometimes great fame!

Of course the aforementioned narcigesis and scripture mangling really works well because it’s all designed to tickle itching ears and get folks lusting after their ‘dream destinies’. It used to be just about their ‘best lives now’, but catchy phrases wear out don’t ya know and periodically need to be kicked up a notch to keep the ‘tithes’ pouring in to pay for the big stage lighting, smoke machines, professional musicians, etc., ad nauseum needed to crank up the kids and get them ‘feeling’ really excited and ‘thinking’ The Glory of God is filling the place.

So why am I suprised that so much theologically vacuous supposedly ‘Christian’ entertainment is hitting the big screen? Well, I have news for you……I’m NOT surprised. I just figured it out with some degree of accuracy.

And BTW, I’m not preaching. Articulating my thoughts is quite helpful.

🙂

Why the World Hates Christians

18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’ (John 15:18-25)

1. We’re not part of the world’s system, but have been called out of the world. (v. 19)

2. The world hates Christ and a servant is not above his master. Christ was persecuted and his followers will be persecuted. (v. 18, 20)

3. The world not only does not know God, the world Hats God and his Son. (vv. 21, 23)

4. To fulfill scripture. (v. 25 [Ps 69:4])

HT: John MacArthur

If you would like to watch or listen to the sermons from which the above points were taken, use the following links.

http://www.gty.org/resources/Sermons/43-85/Why-the-World-Hates-Christians-Part-1

http://www.gty.org/resources/Sermons/43-86/Why-the-World-Hates-Christians-Part-2

The Necessity and Urgency of Maintaining Sound Doctrine

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." -2 Timothy 2:15

"Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you." -2 Timothy 1:13-14

"He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it." -Titus 1:9

by A.W. Tozer

It would be impossible to overemphasize the importance of sound doctrine in the life of a Christian. Right thinking about all spiritual matters is imperative if we would have right living. As men do not gather grapes of thorns nor figs of thistles, so sound character does not grow out of unsound teaching.

The word doctrine means simply religious beliefs held and taught. It is the sacred task of all Christians, first as believers and then as teachers of religious beliefs, to be certain that these beliefs correspond exactly to truth. A precise agreement between belief and fact constitutes soundness in doctrine. We cannot afford to have less.

Contend for the Faith

The apostles not only taught truth but contended for its purity against any who would corrupt it. The Pauline epistles resist every effort of false teachers to introduce doctrinal vagaries. john’s epistles are sharp with condemnation of those teachers who harassed the young church by denying the incarnation and throwing doubts upon the doctrine of the Trinity; and Jude in his brief but powerful epistle rises to heights of burning eloquence as he pours scorn upon evil teachers who would mislead the saints.

Each generation of Christians must look to its beliefs. While truth itself is unchanging, the minds of men are porous vessels out of which truth can leak and into which error may seep to dilute the truth they contain. The human heart is heretical by nature and runs to error as naturally as a garden to weeds. All a man, a church or a denomination needs to guarantee deterioration of doctrine is to take everything for granted and do nothing. The unattended garden will soon be overrun with weeds; the heart that fails to cultivate truth and root out error will shortly be a theological wilderness; the church or denomination that grows careless on the highway of truth will before long find itself astray, bogged down in some mud flat from which there is no escape.

Faithfulness to Truth

In every field of human thought and activity accuracy is considered a virtue. To err ever so slightly is to invite serious loss, if not death itself. Only in religious thought is faithfulness to truth looked upon as a fault. When men deal with things earthly and temporal they demand truth; when they come to the consideration of things heavenly and eternal they hedge and hesitate as if truth either could not be discovered or didn’t matter anyway.

Montaigne said, "that a liar is one who is brave toward God and a coward toward men; for a liar faces God and shrinks from men." Is this not simply a proof of unbelief? Is it not to say that the liar believes in men but is not convinced of the existence of God, and is willing to risk the displeasure of a God who may not exist rather than that of man who obviously does?

Carelessness in Religion

I think also that deep, basic unbelief is back of human carelessness in religion. The scientist, the physician, the navigator deals with matters he knows are real; and because these things are real the world demands that both teacher and practitioner be skilled in the knowledge of them. The teacher of spiritual things only is required to be unsure in his beliefs, ambiguous in his remarks and tolerant of every religious opinion expressed by anyone, even by the man least qualified to hold an opinion.

Haziness of doctrine has always been the mark of the liberal. When the Holy Scriptures are rejected as the final authority on religious belief something must be found to take their place. Historically that something has been either reason or sentiment: if sentiment, it has been humanism. Sometimes there has been an admixture of the two, as may be seen in liberal churches today. These will not quite give up the Bible, neither will they quite believe it; the result is an unclear body of beliefs more like a fog than a mountain, where anything may be true but nothing may be trusted as being certainly true.
We have gotten accustomed to the blurred puffs of gray fog that pass for doctrine in modernistic churches and expect nothing better, but it is a cause for real alarm that the fog has begun of late to creep into many evangelical churches. From some previously unimpeachable sources are now coming vague statements consisting of a milky admixture of Scripture, science and human sentiment that is true to none of its ingredients because each one works to cancel the others out.

Brainwashed Evangelicals

Certain of our evangelical brethren appear to be laboring under the impression that they are advanced thinkers because they are rethinking evolution and re-evaluating various Bible doctrines or even divine inspiration itself; but so far are they from being advanced thinkers that they are merely timid followers of modernism-fifty years behind the parade.

Little by little evangelical Christians these days are being brainwashed. One evidence is that increasing numbers of them are becoming ashamed to be found unequivocally on the side of truth. They say they believe but their beliefs have been so diluted as to be impossible of clear definition.

Moral power has always accompanied definitive beliefs. Great saints have always been dogmatic. We need right now a return to a gentle dogmatism that smiles while it stands stubborn and firm on the Word of God that liveth and abideth forever."

by A.W. Tozer, The Best Of A.W. Tozer, pg. 174-176,
taken from Man, The Dwelling Place Of God

Online Source: CAMP ON THIS

Evangelism–God’s Part and Our Part

Adapted from "Crossing the Barriers", Truth For Life Ministries

“Even if I were utterly selfish, and had no cure for anything but my own happiness, I would choose, if I might, under God, to be a soulwinner; for never did I know perfect, overflowing, unutterble happiness of the purest and most ennobling order till I first heard of one who had sought and found the Savior through my means. No young mother ever so rejoiced over her first-born child, no warrior was so exultant over a hard-won victory.” – C.H. Spurgeon

Remember that ‘to evangelize’ is to present Christ Jesus to sinful people in order that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they may come to put their trust in God through Him.

If we examine the above definition of ‘to evangelize’ we see that there are three ‘actors’; the one who presents Jesus Christ (that would be us), the Holy Spirit (God), and those who put their trust in God through Christ (those to whom we present Jesus Christ).

Given our three ‘actors’ then, we can say that evangelism is supremely God’s work in people in which He enlists human cooperation.

It naturally follows that, in order for us to fulfill our responsibilities in personal evangelism, we must first be clear as to what God alone can do, and what we, therefore, cannot do.

GOD’S PART

1. Conviction of sin is the work of God the Holy Spirit. (John 16:8)

Joh 16:8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:

2. God alone can give repentance to men. (Acts 5:31; 11:18)

Act 5:31 "God exalted him at his right hand as Leader (Prince)and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins."

Act 11:18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life."

3. Only God can draw men and women to Christ. (John 6:44)

Joh 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

4. God alone can reveal Jesus. (2 Cor. 4:6)

2Co 4:6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

5. It is God’s unique prerogative to bring about the new birth. (John 1:12, 13; 3:3, 5)

Joh 1:12-13 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Joh 3:3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

OUR PART

Our part in evangelism consists of 1) being prepared and 2) understanding what God requires of us.

Preparation for this work.

1. Our life needs to be open to God and cleansing sought for all known sin. (Psalms 51:10; 2 Tim. 2:20-21)

Psa 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

2Ti 2:20-21 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

2. We must be living in the fullness of the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 2:4)

Eph 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

Act 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

1Co 2:4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

3. There needs to be an awareness of our own personal dependence upon Jesus for salvation. (1 Tim. 1:15)

1Ti 1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

4. There needs to be a humble recognition of God’s power. (1 Cor. 3:7)

1Co 3:7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

5. We must the know Scriptures.

6. We must understand the human predicament without Christ. (Matthew 9:36)

Mat 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

7. We engage in this task with sincerity of heart. (Romans 9:1, 2)

Rom 9:1-2 I am speaking the truth in Christ–I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit–that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.

What God Requires of Us – Cooperation

1. Although the work of conversion is essentially God the Holy Spirit’s work, He calls us to work with him in achieving it. (Acts 26:15-18)

Acts 26:15-18 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

2. Our responsibility is to make known the Word of God. (Acts 16:14; Romans 10:14-17)

Acts 16:14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

Rom 10:14-17 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

3. We should urge men to seek God (Isaiah 55:6, 7; Luke 13:24), To repent (Matthew 4:17; Acts 17:24). To be converted (Matthew 18:3), and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 16:31)

Isaiah 55:6, 7 6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; 7 call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Luke 13:24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 18:3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn (be converted [KJV[) and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Acts 16:31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

4. In doing this we must be willing to display genuine friendship which will often be costly. (Luke 10:29ff; 2 Tim. 2:10)

Luke 10:25-30 25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.

2 Tim. 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

5. We are to be ready to do this work anytime and anywhere. (Acts 1:8;James 1:2; Romans 10:1; Acts 4:29)

Act 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Jas 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,

Rom 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

Act 4:29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,

FINAL STATEMENT

The implications of these truths are far-reaching. They ought at least instill in us a renewed sense of dependence upon God and an increased confidence in God which will be demonstrated largely in our prayers.

The State of the ‘Almost Christian’

Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

Genesis 3:6-9

There are many whom I must call “almost Christians,” for I know no other expression in the Bible, which so exactly describes their state. They have many things about them which are right, good and praiseworthy in the sight of God. They are regular and moral in their lives. They are free from glaring outward sins. They keep up many decent and proper habits. They appear to love the preaching of the Gospel. They are not offended at the truth as it is in Jesus, however plainly it may be spoken. They have no objection to religious company, religious books, and religious talk. They agree to all you say when you speak to them about their souls. And all this is well.

But still there is no movement in the hearts of these people that even a microscope can detect. They are like those who stand still. Weeks after weeks, years after years roll over their heads, and they are just where they were. They sit under our pulpits. They approve of our sermons. And yet, like Pharaoh’s lean cows, they are nothing the better, apparently, for all they receive. There is always the same regularity about them—the same constant attendance on means of grace—the same wishing and hoping—the same way of talking about religion—but there is nothing more. There is no going forward in their Christianity. There is no life, and heart, and reality in it. Their souls seem to be at a deadlock. And all this is sadly wrong.

~ J.C. Ryle

Tract: Where Are You?

Christians in the World

“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. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner 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. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country.

They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. 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. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

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 the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. 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. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.”

________________________________________________

Above excerpted from The Letter to Diognetus, dating from approximately 125AD. It is the earliest example we have of an “apology,” a document defending the Christian faith addressed to a non-Christian.  It’s author is anonymous and the “Diognetus” to whom it is addressed is also unknown.  This brief but wonderful document is so close to the time of the Apostles that it is reckoned as falling within the category of the “Apostolic Fathers.”

The full letter can be found here.