A Pagan Walked Into a Church…

A pagan observed an early 2nd century AD church. Here is what he saw.

“They abstain from all impurity in the hope of the recompense that is to come in another world. As for their servants or handmaids or children, they persuade them to become Christians by the love they have for them; and when they become so, they call them without distinction, brothers. They do not worship strange gods; and they walk in all humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them; and they love one another. When they see the stranger they bring him to their homes and rejoice over him as over a true brother…

“And if there is among them a man that is poor and needy and if they have not an abundance of necessities, they fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with the necessary food.

“They observe scrupulously the commandment of their Messiah; they live honestly and soberly as the Lord their God commanded them. Every morning and all hours on account of the goodness of God toward them, they render praise and laud Him over their food and their drink; they render Him thanks.

“And if any righteous person of their number passes away from this world, they rejoice and give thanks to God and they follow his body as though he were moving from one place to another. And when a child is born to them, they praise God, and if again it chances to die in its infancy, they praise God mightily, as for one who has passed through the world without sins.

“Such is the law of the Christians and such is their conduct.”

—Athenian Philosopher Aristides, c. 101-200

How things have changed. The church might want to take a step back—way back, and ponder what it is and what it use to be—and how we got from there to here.

Blessings,

—j

The Church That Was (A Long Time Ago)

(Since the Author of Hebrews told Jesus’ followers to “provoke one another to love and good deeds”, here are some provocations I collected over the years that I hope to launch every day or two. Blessings and provocations upon you. —j)

Aristides watched Christians. He lived in the early 2nd century AD, and he saw believers who believed and who did—and it showed.

“They abstain from all impurity in the hope of the recompense that is to come in another world. As for their servants or handmaids or children, they persuade them to become Christians by the love they have for them; and when they become so, they call them without distinction, brothers. They do not worship strange gods; and they walk in all humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them; and they love one another. When they see the stranger they bring him to their homes and rejoice over him as over a true brother; for they do not call those who are after the flesh, but those who are in the Spirit and in God.

“And there is among them a man that is poor and needy and if they have not an abundance of necessities, they fast two or three days, that they may supply the needy with the necessary food.

“They observe scrupulously the commandment of their Messiah; they live honestly and soberly as the Lord their God commanded them. Every morning and all hours on account of the goodness of God toward them, they render praise and laud Him over their food and their drink; they render Him thanks…

“Such is the law of the Christians and such is their conduct.”

—From The Apology of Aristides, Syriac text and translation. Cited in Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 1 (Chicago Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc), page 346

This is what Christians looked like and did. It’s good to look back and remember, but some memories need resuscitation into a working reality. Lets hope the modern church hasn’t fallen too far from the tree…