“Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind either in locality or in speech or in customs. They do not live apart in cities of their own, nor do they speak some different language or practice some extraordinary way of life. Nor yet do they posses any invention discovered by the intelligence or study of ingenious men, nor are they masters of any human dogma as some are. They live in cities of Greeks or barbarians as the lot is cast, and they follow the local customs in dress and food and the other details of daily life. Yet the constitution of their own polity is remarkable and admittedly paradoxical. They live in their own home-towns, but are only sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, but endure all hardships as foreigners. Every foreign land is home to them, and every home foreign… Their existence is on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven… They love all, and are persecuted by all…” (anonymous, Epistle to Diognetus, circa 150 A.D.).
Leaving aside some of the thorny issues raised by early Christian apologetic efforts, this quote is extraordinary. It is amazing to be able to so identify with an anonymous man writing two thousand years ago from half way around the world. “Every foreign land is home to them, and every home foreign” is perhaps as beautiful and sublime a picture of the Christian’s pilgrimage in this world I’ve ever read. It captures both the heart which fuels missions, and the fire which produces martyrs.
(By: Nicolas Alford)