Historically, What is the Church?

Check out the what the church is for me personally and biblically in the first two installments of this series I am writing for class.

Diana Butler Bass writes in her book, A People’s History of Christianity, “The early Christian text (from second or third century) known as the Epistle to Diognetus explains that Christianity is neither an ethnicity nor earthly citizenship but a way of life that is somehow at odds with the societies in which the faithful reside. Christians may look like everyone else, but their actions – including practices of hospitality, charity, and nonviolence – make them different.”[1] We are indeed flesh and blood, human, mortal as anyone else, but should that be something we attain to or rise above? Should not our faith in Christ make us better than our flesh and blood can take us? We do not strive to be better than anyone else. We strive to be our best selves. We do that by being in the church and in community with Christ as our guideline for what life can look like for us.

The Epistle to Diognetus says, “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 evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life.”[2] At no point should our reaction to life be that of someone who has not been adopted into the family of Christ. If we are living into our fullest calling and into our greatest capacity to be Christ in the world, then we are not being Christians.

I have heard a lot on the news and internet about varying war on…something. War on Christmas. War on Education. War on…whatever. When I think about these pseudo wars we have put ourselves in because we think we are someone standing up for our beliefs in them, I am reminded of someone who truly did stand up. Perpetua was a woman who gave up her life to follow the teachings of the Christ. She was given many opportunities to recant her faith and live her life in peace. She simply could not do it. She faced an excruciatingly painful death at the hands of her persecutors, to the point that once the animals were done tearing the flesh from her body and she still somehow managed to keep living, she welcomed the knife of the guard as it ended her life. So when I hear people in modern times say there is a War on Christianity, I immediately think of Perpetua. What was she standing up for? What did she die for? Is the war American Christians face more on their privilege and elitism rather than their faith? Where is their faith when all of life has catered to them and their desire to be in charge of others and the world around them? We are not called to be the meat in the meal. We are called to be the salt in which it is enhanced with and preserved for later with; we are called to be the light on the hill. We are to shine brighter because we have encountered the living Christ in our lives and accepted the challenge to live like Jesus. At no point does that mean we complain about whether or not other people respect our faith the way we think they should. We welcome every opportunity to be goodness in someone’s life and when they reject us, we still give them goodness.

[1] Bass (2009), pg. 74

[2] Bass (2009), pg. 75

Published by Irreverent Rev

audacious. jesus freak. suffrage lover. level head, open mind. laugh enthusiast. trying to become brave.

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