Who are Christians?

“Christians are not differentiated from other people by country, languages or customs; you see, they do not live in cities of their own, or speak some strange dialect, or have some peculiar lifestyle. This teaching of theirs has not been contrived by the invention and speculation of inquisitive men; nor are they propagating mere human teaching as some people do. They live in both Greek and foreign cities, wherever chance has put them. They follow local customs in clothing, food and the other aspects of life. But at the same time, they demonstrate to us the wonderful and certainly unusual form of their own citizenship.

They live in their own native lands, but as foreigners; as citizens, they share all things with others; but like foreigners, they suffer all things. Every foreign country is to them as their native country, and every native land is as a foreign country.

They marry and have children, just like everyone else; but they do not kill unwanted babies. They offer a shared table, but not a shared bed. They are at present “in the flesh,” but they do not live “according to the flesh.” They are passing their days on earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey the appointed laws, and go beyond the laws in their own lives.

They love everyone, but are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and gain life. They are poor and yet make many rich. They are short everything, and yet have plenty of all things. They are dishonored and yet gain glory through dishonor.

Their names are blackened and yet they are cleared. They are mocked, and bless in return. They are treated outrageously and behave respectfully to others. When they do good, they are punished as evildoers; when punished, they rejoice as if being given new life. They are attacked by Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by Greeks; yet those who hate them cannot give any reason for their hostility.

To put it simply – the soul is to the body as Christians are to the world. The soul is spread through all parts of the body, and Christians are spread through all the cities of the world. The soul is in the body, but is not of the body; Christians are in the world, but not of the world.”

–From the anonymous Letter to Diognetus, written in the 2nd century

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