This is a great quote I came across from St. Cyprian. He was a church leader in the 3rd Century in North Africa. It is an excerpt from a letter he wrote to his friend Donatus.
This seems a cheerful world, Donatus, when I view it from this fair garden under the shadow of these vines. But if I climbed some great mountain and looked out over the wide lands, you know very well what I would see; brigands on the high road, pirates on the seas, in the amphitheaters men murdered to please the applauding crowds, under all roofs misery and selfishness. It really is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. Yet, in the midst of it, I have found a quiet and holy people. They have discovered a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of this sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are the Christians…and I am one of them.
How much do we look up from our walled gardens, known as the church (or the Christian world) to see the misery around us? How much does your Christian life reflect Cyprian’s observations about the life of a Christian?
More importantly, how do we put these two things together? Does our joy spread out to help a hurting world or do we keep it in our walled gardens?