In a letter dating back to the second century, an anonymous writer describes a strange people in the world: They are not differentiated from other people by country, language, or customs. They do not live in cities of their own or speak some strange dialect. 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 an unusual form of their own citizenship, living as aliens in 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 obey the appointed laws and go beyond the laws in their own lives. They love everyone, but are persecuted by all. When they do good, they are punished as evildoers, yet those who hate them cannot give any reason for their hostility. They are poor and yet make many rich.

They are dishonored and yet gain glory through dishonor. Their names are blackened and yet they are cleared. They are mocked and yet bless in return. They are treated outrageously and yet behave respectfully to others. When they are put to death, they rejoice as if being given new life. They are passing their days on earth, but are citizens of a place called heaven.

If you haven’t already figured it out, the anonymous writer was describing a curious people known as Christians – people in the world but not of the world. People who claim allegiance to and relationship with Jesus Christ. People who have willingly surrendered their lives for his life and strive to show and share that life to others.

Paul declared in 2Corinthians 5 that we are “Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us,” employing a bold analogy of an ancient ambassador. Though carrying immense authority, he didn’t speak in his own name or act on his own authority. Nor did his message originate in him, but from one in power above him. The point being that God is really making his appeal to mankind through his followers.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pointedly noted that his followers are to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” In effect, we are his representatives wherever we are and whatever we say and do. Do others see and hear Jesus in you?

May we be ever faithful to the name we claim.

Striving to be like Jesus,

Pastor Bill