Okay, these guys are really ancient. And before you write them off as heretics as Western Church history usually recounts, you might want to do some fresh research now that the world has become so much smaller and we are able to fill in some gaps. While the Nestorians at different points in their history continued to make confusing statements about Jesus’ dual-nature (see the website http://www.nestorian.org/index.html for more information), what can’t be denied is their incredible missionary zeal. Christians from “the Church of the East” as they preferred to be called, were doing Business as Mission before the term was coined. Some historians believe that Eastern Christians first took the Gospel to Japan, but there’s no doubt that they made it throughout India, Russia, Mongolia, and China. These guys were serious influencers.
What I love most about the Eastern Christians is that they were so serious about their faith that they incorporated it into every aspect of their lives. They were not so compartmentalized like we tend to get sometimes, separating our “church-life” from normal life. Small bands of believers would join the ancient trade routes along the Silk Road and share their faith at every stop. Not only were they going somewhere to share their faith, but they were living their faith as they went. They prioritized education and memorized much scripture as well as capturing the important truths of the faith in songs and hymns that they developed along the way.
These guys were doing life together and apparently their authenticity won many to Christ throughout Asia. Whole tribes of barbaric Mongols were known to come to Christ as a result of the Nestorian efforts. As it turns out, they got a little too comfortable and civilized later in the courts of emperors, especially in China, and their lifestyle became much more like the establishment religion that we often think of when we think back to the Dark Ages.
My hope is that we will be as serious about impacting our world as these Eastern Christians were, and that we will live with that level of authenticity. But let’s not let it wane like they did!