Spotlight 4/2022: Togetherness then and now!
“And he who has, gives to him who has not, without boasting.” What beautiful testimony the Greek philosopher Aristides of Athens gave the first Christians. Reflections by District Apostle Michael Deppner (DR Congo).
Shortly before going to the cross, Jesus took the time to pray for His disciples and for those who would believe in Him by their word: “…that they may be one just as We are one: I in them and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17: 20–23).
Even as the horrors of His death approached, He focused on the unity of His church. Both the love we have for one another and our desire to share what we have are a testimony that Christ was sent by the Father. Through our unity in the congregation and in Christ, we testify that God loves His people just as He loves Christ.
Recently, I read a testimony of the early Christians. It was given by Aristides, a Greek philosopher, to the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the first century:
“…and they love one another, and from widows they do not turn away their esteem; and they deliver the orphan from him who treats him harshly. And he who has, gives to him who has not, without boasting. And when they see a stranger, they take him in to their homes and rejoice over him as a very brother; for they do not call them brethren after the flesh, but brethren after the spirit and in God. And whenever one of their poor passes from the world, each one of them according to his ability gives heed to him and carefully sees to his burial. And if they hear that one of their number is imprisoned or afflicted on account of the name of their Messiah, all of them anxiously minister to his necessity, and if it is possible to redeem him they set him free. And if there is among them any that is poor and needy, and if they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the needy their lack of food. They observe the precepts of their Messiah with much care, living justly and soberly as the Lord their God commanded them. Every morning and every hour they give thanks and praise to God for His loving-kindnesses toward them; and for their food and their drink they offer thanksgiving to Him…”
It touched me, and I couldn’t help but wonder, does this describe my life in the congregation of Christ? You could say the times were simpler then. In our busy world we get caught up in ourselves. Having said this, I don’t think our earlier brothers and sisters had it so easy.
Christ showed that in the worst times of His existence here on earth He worried about us: He prayed for us and for our unity with Him and the Father.
May we continue in this unity: with Christ and with one another in the congregation. It is a real greenhouse for our future. In our congregation we learn to sit with those we don’t choose to sit with or necessarily even like at first. We eat at the same table. We pray together for the same forgiveness, and praise and thank the heavenly Father together.
Photo: ENA RD Congo Ouest