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More on early Christ followers

By the way, the letter quoted below can be found in day 2 & 3 of the Lenten Church Fathers readings that I referenced a few days ago. Download the pdf by clicking here.

I wanted to talk about this portion of the letter:

we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen.

In my experiences in Christianity, the modern Church functions oppositely - we have not been seen living in the world and our religious life has been very very seen. The message that I received growing up was that living as a Christian meant that you proclaim your religion but not while living in the world. You venture into the world, proclaim and then run away hard and fast back to the retreat of your religious community.

This is why I think the “missional movement” that is emerging from the previous system is so important. I personally am working to do this in my own life and our faith community is as well.

I was thinking last night about why it’s so important that we move this direction. This might seem overly simplistic but that’s the kind of girl I am so track with me for a moment.

Do you ever notice that it’s difficult to trust and care about someone you don’t know? Have you ever noticed that it’s hard to accept advice or care about the beliefs of someone whom you don’t know? Maybe I’m just a jaded, cynical person who finds it hard to trust (not maybe, it’s true, I am), but I know that I find it hard to care about someone I don’t know.

Which is why I think it’s so important that we live “out there” in a real way, that we look similarly but live very differently RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of the rest of the world. That we build real and powerful relationships with people and build trust and understanding. Is there room for “hit and run” proclamation? Of course, there’s room for just about everything as God can use it all. But all things being equal, our daily lives need to reflect the lives of these early Christ followers…involved in the lives of others.

How can we care about the homeless when we don’t know homeless people? How can we care about those with AIDS if we don’t know anyone with AIDS or AIDS orphans? How can we care about bringing peace when we have never experienced war or know a victim of violence? I’m a pretty rational person (under normal circumstances) and a realist, this all seems so logical to me that I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me decades ago.

So during this season of lent, as part of my alms giving and repentance, I’m taking my missional life to the next level. Anyone else up for it?

And another:

The soul is imprisoned in the body, yet preserves that very body; and Christians are confined in the world as in a prison, and yet they are the preservers of the world.

Are we? Are we preservers of the world? How can we do this job better?

[tags]missional, service, church[/tags]

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  1. Paul — February 23, 2007 #

    Is there a difference between caring for and caring about? Or put it another way I don’t need to know someone with AIDS in africa to give my time, money and voice to help that person…

    I think what i take from your post that caring can’t just be something we say but also something we do - belief is not just intellectual assent but action. Or as Jesus put it in Matt 7…

    “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

  2. Ari — February 23, 2007 #

    no, not really. What I’m saying is that it’s very hard to care about or for someone we don’t know. It’s easy to judge from a distance when there isn’t a pair of hurting eyes gazing back at you.

    That doesn’t mean we withhold giving or caring just because we don’t know someone personally. But it does mean that we need to keep in mind that it’s very easy to judge and think lowly of someone or some group you don’t know. For example, if you think lowly of homosexuals and find it hard to care about them - develop a relationship with a homosexual. does that make more sense?

  3. Paul — February 26, 2007 #

    yes that makes sense, to me that is more to do with the fear of the unknown and how that makes it easier to depersonalise people when there is no connection…

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