chapter  3
The Two Cities: Sojourners in the World
Pages 23

After the resurrection experience the Christian community was quickly faced with a perplexing dilemma. Paul had told his companions to adapt themselves ‘no longer to the pattern of this present world’ (Romans 12.2). They had in Jesus the example of one who, while joining in the closest sociability with those rejected by the powerful in this world, had overturned the ‘normal’ standards by which people lived. Were they all to do the same, and follow him to an early death in the hope of an early resurrection? Some had expected the immediate consummation of time and history in God’s apocalyptic judgment. Paul told them that ‘the world as we know it is passing away’ (1 Corinthians 7.31). Yet still the world, with its torment and oppression, seemed to carry on regardless. They could not continue to live in the world without adopting some of its values. They could not all live off charity, and if they were to engage in the world’s commerce, some compromise with ‘commercial’ values seemed unavoidable. Christians began to think of themselves as sojourners in the world, living within it like visitors but, like foreign residents, giving the community only qualified allegiance (Hebrews 13.14). Their true citizenship was in heaven (Philippians 3.20).