The Roman Emperor Julian (332-363) hated Christianity.
He hoped instead to restore the glory of the ancient Roman religion, which worshipped a multitude of deities in the temples and shrines that filled the city.
But Julian saw a problem with convincing the multitude to turn its back on the recently authorized faith: the power of Christian love in practice.
Here’s how he said it: “[Christianity] has been specifically advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers…[The Christians] 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.”
In other words, how could a pagan religion hope to gain followers when Christianity is setting itself apart as being far superior through its actions and results?
My how things change.
Is there anybody who looks at American Christianity and thinks first and foremost of the charity it carries out? Of the kindness it shows to the poor and destitute?
It’s far more likely they’ll think of Christianity as being a group of people who want power through politics, don’t like homosexuals and think kids need to be sheltered from secular music and movies or even education.
Who in their right mind would want any part of that? I know I don’t.
Those of us who really love God would say that’s just junk you have to ignore when you’re trying to be a part of the Body of Christ. But from the outside looking in, how can you know that the loudmouth politician, television preachers and bully pulpit pastors don’t speak for everyone?
Instead of gaining clout through the methods of this world: coersion, marketing, spin control, PR campaigns, etc…can we try the method Jesus recommended? Leading through serving?
The whole point of washing the disciples feet in John 13 was to show them that Christians were expected to act differently. Embracing service rather than power.
When Paul talks about living lives that no government could outlaw (Galatians 5:23), he’s again hammering this point home.
Instead of trying to grab power and attention from the politicians and the wealthy, lets serve the poor and powerless.
Let’s give people an alternative to what they see happening in a broken world, not more of the same.
Then, perhaps, some people may begin to say “There is something different about Christians. Something better than what I have going on.” This, I believe, is the example Jesus gave us and the mission we should be undertaking.