I just remembered a quote from a second century letter that might be a good way to wrap up our series of posts on our “dual citizenship.” This ancient document shows that from very early in the church’s history, followers of Jesus saw their distinct roles as citizens of both heaven and earth.
This ancient Christian document called “The Epistle Of Mathetes To Diognetus” makes a case for followers of Christ by saying,
“The Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. . . .
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 dishonored, and yet in their very dishonor are glorified.
They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honor; they do good, yet are punished as evildoers. 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.
To sum up all in one word-what the soul is in the body, [so] are Christians in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, yet is not of the body; and Christians dwell in the world, yet are not of the world.”
We have included this quote in a Discovery Series booklet on “Church and State” that addresses at more length the history and present challenge of the Church and Politics.
Before we move on to other subjects, I’d like to know whether you find anything insightful in “The Epistle Of Mathetes To Diognetus”?