Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cray on being disciples and citizens

via an anonymous 2nd century Christian. (Quotes galore this past week as I have nothing inspired to say and there're plenty of wiser and more inspired people around!) :-)

"All things have been created through [Jesus] and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Col. 1:16-17). So the question of dual citizenship cannot be resolved by dividing life into a sphere where Christ rules and another where we operate according to different principles. Discipleship is to be lived out in every dimension of life. The Christian term for citizenship is in effect, public discipleship.

This can bring Christians into conflict with their societies, when the values of society and the values of Christ's kingdom conflict. But it does not set Christians over against their societies, as public discipleship seeks the common good, in the light of the kingdom of God. This was beautifully expressed in the best-known section of the second-century Epistle to Diognetus.

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, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, 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 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...To sum up all in one word— what the soul is in the body, Christians are in the world. "
 -  Graham Cray, Disciples & Citizens: A Vision for Distinctive Living, pp.22-23

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