Have you ever wondered why and how Christianity was able to spread so quickly around the world?
For several decades after Jesus’ ascension to heaven the Roman Empire viewed Jews and Christians as one and the same religion. After much persuasion, the Jewish nation was able to convince the Roman Empire that Christians were not part of the Jewish belief structure. When this designation was made, the Christian believers instantly became public enemy #1. Despite the subsequent persecution, this small sect of believers became the largest movement within the Roman Empire.
According to the book “Church History in Plain Language” there were four main reasons that the gospel was able to spread so prolifically by these early Christians:
- The early Christians were moved by a burning conviction in the salvation ministry of Jesus and the grace and peace that He extends to all.
- The Christian gospel met a widely felt need in the hearts of the people.
- The practical expression of love was probably among the most powerful causes of their success.
- Persecution in many instances helped publicize the Christian faith.
In fact, notice what the Emperor Julian says about Christians and their faith. As you read this quote, Emperor Julian still considered Christians as part of the Jewish sect and he also considered them atheists:
Atheism [i.e., Christian faith] has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers, and through their care for the burial of the dead. It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar, and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them (Dr. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language: Fourth Edition, p. 38).
The early Christians emphasized a love for one another, but most importantly as noted by Emperor Julian, they expressed a love for all of humanity! This week as we continue our study in the Book of Colossians we will note that Paul leaves us with some very important truths about love. In his practical and rule changing message we will see that at the heart of these changes is a love for Jesus that pours out into every fiber of society.
As we get ready for this study we must ask ourselves the following question: Do I love Jesus enough to love myself, my family, my friends and everyone that I come in contact with?
Grace and Peace,