In many ways the culture is turning against Christian values, and that is why all of us who call ourselves Christians needs to demonstrate to the watching world the truthfulness of the gospel. We can do that both with our words and with our works.
Sociologist Rodney Stark in his book, The Rise of Christianity, said: “Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent urban problems. To cities filled with the homeless and the impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fires, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services.”
I have had Rodney Stark on my radio program to talk about his more recent book, The Triumph of Christianity. He explained that: “in the pagan world, and especially among the philosophers, mercy was regarded as a character defect and pity as a pathological emotion.” Mercy and compassion are rooted in Christian values.
When plagues broke out in the Roman Empire, the mortality rate among Christians was much lower than among the pagans. The pagans fled from the sick and tried to avoid any contact with the afflicted. When “their first symptoms appeared, victims often were thrown into the streets, where the dead and dying lay in piles.” Christians instead ministered to the sick by giving them two things they needed: food and water.
Christianity thrived in the Roman Empire not just because of the truthfulness of the gospel, but also due to the love and compassion shown by Christians. It is time for Christians today to demonstrate the truthfulness of the gospel with their love and compassion.