In the second century, Rome, seemingly out of nowhere there were Christians across every social class, from slaves to the wealthy, living their lives, not separate, but in Roman culture yet differently. They were known as followers of “the way” (Acts 9:2, 22:4), forming a new community, following a resurrected Jesus, fellowshipping in a new way of life. One second century observer referred to Christianity as a “Third Way,” distinct from Rome’s religion, distinct from the Jew’s religion, a new way of life.
Jesus summarized the Decalogue simply: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And…You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37-39). It is a brilliant, comprehensive yet succinct understanding of God’s Moral Law. It is also clear in its inclusion: God, my neighbor, and me. Of course, only the fool questions who God is (Ps. 14:1), and I know who I am, but who is my neighbor? Is my neighbor my friend but not my enemy? Is my neighbor my social or political tribe but not yours? Is my neighbor those I like but not those I dislike or those who dislike me? Who is my neighbor?
As we learn this, we can look at all that is our neighbor’s and be content with, what our catechism calls, “a right and charitable frame of spirit” (WSC Q. 80). We can be genuinely happy for our neighbor’s sake, because we trust the providence of God. And we can be content with our own lot, knowing “we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out…” (1 Tim. 6:7).
It’s time for us as Christians to change the way we think and talk about our rights and privileges. What the world needs to see and hear from us is that true freedom is in Christ.
A disciple is one who by God’s grace savingly confesses Christ, rejoices in assembling together as a church, may be tempted but hopefully never assists Satan, to the glory of Christ denies self, and awaits his imminent return and eternal glory.
Worldly wisdom touts freedom from the shackles of Christianity, liberty from religious conformity. But to those children to whom the truth has been revealed, we know the yoke of Christ to be easy and His burden light.
It is, however, an encouragement to remember that we who have been called to follow Jesus, who have been called to the feast that is ours in Christ, have been called to forgiveness, a forgiveness that we know only by the mercy of God.