Friday, July 13, 2007

Early Church quotes volume 1

Currently I'm writing a paper which means I'm reading alot of early church sources. Whenever I come across a good early church quote, I'll post it up here for my beloved readers to chew on. By early church I mean before 300AD

Seeing as today's early church quote is the first here on the athensBLOG, it's appropraite that is comes to us from Athenagoras of Athens who lived in the second half of the 2nd century and wrote, in his 'Legatio 11':
What, then, are these teachings in which we are reared? “I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven, who makes his sun to shine on the evil and on the good, and sends his rain on the just and on the unjust”

Who [of the pagan philosophers] have so purified their own hearts as to love their enemies instead of hating them; instead of upbraiding those who first insult them (which is certainly more usual), to bless them; and to pray for those who plot against them? …

With us, on the contrary, you will find unlettered people, tradesmen and old women, who, though unable to express in words the advantages of our teaching, demonstrate by acts the value of their principles. For they do not rehearse speeches, but evidence good deeds. When struck, they do not strike back; when robbed, they do not sue; to those who ask, they give, and they love their neighbors as themselves

The thing that stuck out most to me was the last part of this quote - they do not rehearse speeches, but evidence good deeds. Seems to me that in modern Christianity too much of our time is taken up with rehearsing speeches, rather than doing good deeds. How about you and your church? Do we have 'good deed ministries'? Or just ministries where we try to get people in to hear our rehearsed speeches? How are you and I doing good in our community? For example, do you have a ministry to help the poor? Not just give to the poor, but help them? Are you helping the widows and fatherless? These are things that we hear alot about on Sunday mornings but are we actually doing them? Are our churches actually developing systems and ministries to make sure that their congregants are doing the things that are heard from the pulpit? Or are we well-rehearsed-speech-pulpit lovers with itching ears? A reading of Ezekiel 33:30-32 reveals this problem is nothing new. The other thing I noticed is the line - unable to express in words the advantage of our teaching. Makes me wonder about all the emphasis on apologetics these days and if it's worth as much as a cup of cold water given in the name of Jesus. Must be the Salvation Army rubbing off on me :)

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