…we do pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of the calling, and may fulfill all the good pleasure of goodness, and the work of the faith in power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 YLT
I went back to this subject of how we should then live because what Howard Snyder quoted in his book review struck a chord with me.
The church had its remarkable impact not through strategy or programs or even extensive evangelism or writing, but through the Christ-like quality of its community life. Kreider repeats more than once Cyprian’s aphorism, “We do not speak great things but we live them.”
“Unlike many churches today,” Kreider writes, churches in the early centuries “did not try to grow by making people feel welcome and included. Civic paganism did that. In contrast, the churches were hard to enter. They didn’t grow because of their cultural accessibility; they grew because they required commitment to an unpopular God who didn’t require people to perform cultic acts correctly but instead equipped them to live in a way that was richly unconventional.” The early church’s witness “was a product not of what Christians said but of how they lived” (149). Kreider is here referring specifically to the early document called Apostolic Tradition, but the point applies more generally. The Christian movement grew patiently “because of the intriguing wholesomeness of its life” and community—not by evangelistic efforts or missional strategies other than embodied witness and catechesis (169). The church itself was mission.
Kreider shows that a key turning point in the church (in fact in all church history) was when, after the conversion of the Emperor Constantine, the focus of church life and catechesis shifted from Christian behavior to Christian doctrine. From actual living to theology. The catechetical process was shortened and the focus shifted from behavior to belief (274–77). This likely will appear a great oversimplification to some, but Kreider makes his case well.
God made us, a heritage, a people of inheritance Dt 4:20; Dt 32:8-9, that we should live for our Messiah’s praise and glory.
In Christ 11in whom also we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his will; 12to the end that we should be unto the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ: 13in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation,— in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of God’s own possession, unto the praise of his glory. Eph 1:11-14 ASV
This is how Peter reinforces what Paul wrote
9But ye are a elect race [a chosen people], a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10who in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
11Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lust, which war against the soul; 12having your behavior seemly among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:9-12 ASV Compare: Isaiah 43:18-21
How Should We Then Live?