Set my body free

To sum it up… What the soul is in the body, that Christians are in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, and yet is not of the body, and Christians dwell in the world, but are not “of the world” [Jn 17:11-16]. The invisible soul is guarded by the visible body; in the same way, Christians are indeed to be in the world, but their godliness remains invisible. The flesh hates the soul and wars against [it], though it has suffered no injury, because it is prevented from enjoying its pleasures; the world also hates the Christians, even though it is in no way injured by them, because they reject its pleasures. The soul loves the flesh that hates it, and [also loves] its members; in the same way, Christians love those who hate them. The soul is imprisoned in the body, and yet preserves that very body; while Christians are confined in the world as in a prison, and yet they are preservers of the world. The immortal soul dwells in a mortal dwelling, and Christians dwell as sojourners in corruptible [bodies], looking for an incorruptibility dwelling in the heavens. The soul, when ill provided for with respect to food and drink, becomes better; in like manner, the Christians though they are subjected day by day to punishment, increase more and more. God has assigned them this illustrious position, which it is unlawful for them to forsake.

Epistle to Diognetus (c. 130)


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