Sunday, November 13, 2016

God's Colony

Christians eating the Agape meal soon after "Mathetes" wrote.
Painting from the Catacomb of Saints Peter and Marcellinus

As I wrote on Thursday after the US election, the true country and first allegiance of a member of the Christian movement is not any nation on earth. "My kingdom is not from this world," said the one who is our king. Writing to Jesus' followers living in a Roman colony, the Apostle Paul made sure they recognized what nation they were really a colony of...

But our citizenship is in heaven – and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself.

Philippians 3.20-21


Today I've asked an anonymous 2nd century writer (traditionally called Mathetes but never named in his letter) to explain what this meant to his fellow Christians then. 

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...

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.

The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus, 5 (AD 130 - 200)

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